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G.C.B., G.C.S.I. 

<A t ’Memoir 








[All rights reserved] 

Made and Printed in Great Britain by 
Butler Sc Tanner Ltd., Frome and London 



Some time before my father’s death, Miss A. Yule 
had been occupied in arranging his papers with a view 
to assisting the work of some future historian. 

She was the daughter of his friend and brother-in- 
arms Colonel Sir Henry Yule, who, besides being a 
distinguished officer of Royal Engineers, was also a 
well-known writer on geographical and other subjects, 
and Miss Yule to some extent inherited her father’s 

Lord Napier, in his dislike of publicity, would never 
have written an autobiography. He had kept no diary, 
but with his usual kindness afforded his enthusiastic 
secretary free access to his papers and assisted her 
by conversations. Miss Yule doubtless also acquired 
much personal information through the medium of her 
own father, a companion of his youth, who died a 
few days only before Lord Napier—indeed, it was when 
attending his friend’s funeral that he contracted the 
influenza that proved fatal. 

Under these circumstances, my eldest brother was 
unwilling to disturb Miss Yule in the possession of the 
papers, and in prosecuting her wish to write the history 
of Lord Napier’s life herself. But time passed and Miss 
Yule died, leaving a mass of correspondence, and a very 
detailed but unfinished manuscript, which has furnished 
the material, of necessity much abridged, for Chapters 
I to IV, and Chapter VIII, the China Campaign. 




Nothing further was done in the matter, and in 
course of time the duty devolved on me to endeavour, 
however imperfectly, to complete her work and preserve 
some further record of a great career, of a much beloved, 
and deeply respected character, which the statue in 
Queen’s Gate commemorates. 

To a son, the memory of such a father remains 
ever fresh, and no one is found to compare with him. 

Other men have had greater opportunities. Some 
may have been as intelligent, many as brave, a few as 
straight, as strict in their morals and conscientious in 
the execution of every action of their lives, as un¬ 
selfish and chivalrous, as good a father, as perfect a 
husband, but no one else I have ever met has 
appeared to me to combine all these qualities to such 
a degree. 

It is therefore with a sense of deep unworthiness 
that I venture to submit this biography for publication. 

The lapse of time and the great events of the last 
war which have overshadowed all previous records of 
military achievements, have necessitated the curtail¬ 
ment as much as possiblo of the details of actual 

I am much indebted to Mr. Edward Arnold for his 
assistance in preparing the simple maps required to 
give the general view of military operations, and for 
useful suggestions regarding the editing of this book. 

For kind permission to use a map of Central India 
and to make quotations from works and letters my 
thanks are due to The India Office, The Times, the 
Countess Roberts, Lord Lawrence, Field-Marshal Sir 
William Birdwood, Colonel Sir Augustus Fitz-George 
and Mr. D. M. Stanley. 

August , 1927. H. D. NAPIER. 



I Childhood and Youth (1810-1828) ... 1 

II Early Years in India (1828-1846) ... 14 

III The Sutlej Campaign (1845-1846) ... 40 

IV ENGiNEERiNa Successes (1846-1856) ... 66 

V The Indian Mutiny (1857). 68 

VI Second Relief and Capture op Lucknow (1857- 

1858). 88 

VII Central India Campaign (1858-1859) . . 107 

VIII The China War (1860). 124 

IX Member op Indian Council (1861-1862) . . 159 

X President in Council (1863-1865) . . .172 

XI Bombay Command (1865-1867) .... 186 

XII The Abyssinian Campaign (1867-1868) . . . 200 

XIII Capture of Magdala (1868) .... 232 

XIV Commander-In-Chief (1870-1876) .... 264 

XV Gibraltar (1876-1882) . 296 

XVI Return to England (1882-1890) .... 315 


A. Report of the Engineer Operations of toe Siege 

of Lucknow ....... 323 

B. General Orders to the Abyssinian Expeditionary 

Force ......... 332 

C. Memorandum on Persia. 336 

D. Speech on Italy and Abyssinia .... 342 

Index ......... 346 



to faob 


Lord Napier of Magdala .... Frontispiece 

The Suru Defile in Abyssinia ...... 220 

The Fortress of Magdala.246 


Lucknow .......... 90 

Part of Central India.108 

Route of the Abyssinian Expedition. .... 228 



Robert Cornelis Napier was born at Coloft bo in 
Ceylon on December 6, 1810, and the circumstance is 
recorded in his father’s journal of that date as follows: 
“ This morning at about ten minutes before five o’clock 
my dearest Catherine was safely delivered of a very 
fine boy. May the blessings of heaven be upon his 
head ! ” 

Charles Frederick Napier, whose journal has just 
been quoted, was the son of William Napier (born 
1741) who claimed descent from the Napiers of Mer- 
chiston, and was himself a Scottish gentleman of 
independent means and much personal distinction, 
whose cultivated mind, dignified presence and polished 
manners impressed all with whom he came in contact. 
He early gratified a taste for travel and art by a long 
sojourn in Italy, and was married in London at St. 
Paul’s, Covent Garden, in 1766 to a good and pretty 
countrywoman, Jean Steuart, a near relative of the 
Kennedys of Culzean and the Lord Eglinton of that 
day, who was horself born at Culzean in the ancient 
house on the Cove where the present Castle of the 
Marquis of AiEa now stands. 

Her character may be best described in the words 
of her son Charles, who wrote: “ For good sense, 
tenderness, generosity of sentiment and noble forti- 

1 B 


tude, I have never known her equal. Her latter days 
were passed in care and sorrow, but her virtues 
deserved a better fate.” 

Mr. Napier, who had a family of three sons and 
several daughters, is said to have lost a large sum of 
money by the rascality of an attorney who escaped to 
America with the plunder, and the family was thereby 
reduced to comparative poverty. 

Of three sons, two were christened Charles Frederick, 
and, to add to the confusion, both entered the Navy. 
The younger Charles continued to serve for many 
years, taking part in some of the naval actions against 
the French, but attained to no higher rank than that 
of Lieutenant, while tho elder Charles made a fresh 
start by land, and in 1794, after a successful examina¬ 
tion at Woolwich, obtained a Commission in the Royal 
Artillery, thanks to the influence of a friend and relative, 
Mr. Burgess, then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs, of whom he ever after spoke with grateful 

Lieutenant Napier, R.A., whose well-stored note¬ 
books still exist to testify to his youthful application 
and ability, spent the early years of his military service 
in Home garrisons, first at Woolwich and subsequently 
at Dover. During the panic of 1801 he was one of the 
officers employed in equipping Lord Nelson’s flotilla, 
previous to tho attack on Boulogne. In 1803 he was 
transferred to a company of Artillery stationed at 
Colombo, and hero he became acquainted with Cather¬ 
ine Carrington, the clever, pretty and engaging sister 
of Sir Edmund Carrington, Chief Justice of Ceylon. 

The grave young officer, to the envy of many of his 
superiors in rank, had the good fortune to win the 
lady’s affections—she was then twenty-three years of 


age—and on December 22, 1803, they were married by 
licence in the Fort of Colombo. 

Amongst Mrs. Napier’s warmest friends was the 
Governor, the Hon. Frederick North, who gave the 
Napiers the use of his cottage at Point de Galle where 
Napier was then stationed, and which proved to them 
a very happy home until his transfer to Trincomalee, 
and thence in 1807 back to Colombo. At this time 
Napier, who was somewhat older than his wife, and 
very much older in character, is depicted as possessed 
of a tender and affectionate, but grave and reserved 
nature. He was ever ready to befriend and help his 
brother officers, but ho had few familiar associates. 
His devotion to his profession, high standard of duty, 
and deep feeling for religion, together with a certain 
fastidiousness of manner and language, were not 
qualities likely to facilitate freedom of social intercourse. 
But his superiors well knew his value and his men 
were devoted to him. Long after Napier’s death, one 
of his old gunners wrote of him as follows : “ When 
Captain C, F. Napier assumed the command at Trinco¬ 
malee, the climate had made great havoc in the mental 
and bodily constitution of the men ; aided by their 
low habits and vices they were fast falling into drunken¬ 
ness, discontent and all manner of military and moral 
irregularities. The Captain, who was a smart active 
man of strict, sober and moral principles, did all in 
his power to correct this falling off by encouraging 
morality and virtue, and suppressing vice. He was 
scrupulous and faithful in the discharge of his duty, 
and ever watchful for the good of the Service as a 
Commanding Officer. When driven to the disagreeable 
necessity of resorting to corporal punishment, which 
was always the last alternative with him, he hesitated 


not to order it, but always stood with his head down¬ 
wards in silent melancholy, and he has been seen even 
to shed tears on the occasion. ... At his arrival, the 
Artillery, over whom alone he had any command, were 
in the custom of parading every Sunday morning for 
sea-bathing ; this parade he changed to the Saturdays 
and adopted a Church parade on Sunday mornings. 
After it he marched the men into Barracks where they 
all sat down while he stood up and read prayers in the 
most serious and edifying manner. This was never 
omitted when his health would permit; he did all in 
his power for the good of his men, but he had a strange 
medley to deal with.” 1 

At the time of his youngest son’s birth, the family 
already consisted of an elder brother, Charles, and 
two sisters, Angela and Emily. Captain Napier was 
much engaged in laboratory work, experimenting on 
the strength of powders, etc., when, at the beginning 
of 1811, H.M.S. Fox arrived at Colombo with des¬ 
patches, and on the following day orders were issued 
for the preparation of a battery and train to join an 
expedition destined for the conquest of the Island of 
Java, then, as now, in possession of the Dutch. To 
his dismay, Napier found himself, as Second-in-Com- 
mand, detailed to remain behind, but in consequence 
of his vigorous remonstrances and an urgent appeal 
to the Governor, Lieut.-General the Hon. Sir Thomas 
Maitland, an exception was made in his favour. After 
two months of incessant work preparing for the 
expedition, during which time, as his wife afterwards 
complained, “ he was too busy ever to look at his 
poor unchristened babe,” Captain Napier embarked in 

1 Autobiography of Alexander Alexander, Vol. I, p. 170. (Black¬ 
wood, Edinburgh, 1830.) 


command of his detachment for Madras, whence the 
expedition sailed on the 20th April. 

The fleet, consisting of eighty-one sail of all descrip¬ 
tions, halted for some weeks at Malacca, where Napier 
noted the kind and hospitable treatment he received 
from Lord Minto, the Governor-General of Bengal, who 
had accompanied the expedition planned by his own 
courageous foresight. 

Batavia Bay was reached on the 4th August. Four 
days later the city of Batavia surrendered at discretion. 
General Jannscns, tho Franco-Dutch Governor, had 
concentrated his forces at the cantonment of Wiltevree- 
den, itself unfortified, but covered by Fort Cornelis, a 
military post of great strength, on which all the art of 
French engineering had been bestowed. 

On August 10 the British advanced, and, after a 
very sharp action, defeated the enemy, and took 
possession of Wiltevreeden. But Fort Cornelis proved 
too strong to be attempted without heavier ordnance, 
and the next fortnight was spent in landing the siego 
train and constructing batteries. On August 18 
Napier was appointed to command the whole of the 
Artillery, the senior officer being invalided, and by 
August 25 the place was ready for assault. This was 
carried out during the night, and by 8 a.m. on the 
26th the entire position was in the hands of the 
British, the enemy losing 2,000 killed and wounded 
and 5,000 prisoners, while the British loss was only 

On Napier’s return to Colombo, ho received a public 
expression of cordial appreciation both by the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Sir S. Auchmuty, and by the Ceylon 
authorities; but the joyful reunion, so long and 
eagerly awaited by both himself and his wife, was soon 


clouded over by the state of his health, which had 
been undermined by his exertions and an injury received 
during action from the recoil of a gun. Mrs. Napier 
herself became for a short time dangerously ill. But 
by the middle of December they had sufficiently 
recovered to permit of the long-deferred christening to 
take place, and their youngest boy, now more than a 
year old, received the names of Robert Cornelis, the 
latter in honour of the capture of the fortress, which 
his father had so successfully bombarded. 

Unfortunately, the improvement in Napier’s health 
proved but temporary ; he was forced to apply to be 
invalided, and on February 26 his diary records: 
“ Embarked in the evening with my beloved Catherine 
and my dearest children.” Under this entry is written: 
“ The last line ever written by my poor Napier.” 
His health rapidly declined, and he died at sea on 
March 21, 1812. 

To his children he left as sole inheritance a spotless 
name and the example of a life of severe self-denial 
and constant devotion to duty for duty’s sake, without 
thought of recognition or reward. 

To none of his children was this precious inheritance 
so real and active a power for good as to the boy 
whom he scarcely knew. The sentiment of devotion 
to his father’s memory was carefully fostered by the 
mother, whom her son adored, and throughout his 
long career Robert Napier cherished with tender pride 
the memory of his father’s example, and no fame or 
honours that came to himself afforded him the same 
gratification which he felt in a few words of the old 
Java Despatches. 

Mrs. Napier, left with scanty means and a family of 
two sons and two daughters, at first took up her 


abode in Buckinghamshire, near her own relations at 
Missenden Abbey, but soon after removed to Woolwich 
for the education of her eldest son, who was preparing 
to enter the Royal Academy. Robert, the subject of 
these memoirs, was sent to the care of Mrs. Napier’s 
close friend, Lady Huntingdon, in London, where he 
was soon placed at a school of high repute, Mr. Pollard’s, 
in Cadogan Placo. A year later ho went to join his 
brother at a tutor’s at Woolwich. At this time he 
was only nine years old. Long after he said : “ I don’t 
think I learnt anything at that school, unless perhaps 
a little Latin. . . . The tutor was a clever man, but 
it was a very bad school, and the oddest mixturo of 
all classes. There were Tollemaches and Manners on 
the ono hand, jumbled up with the son of the Quarter¬ 
master-Sergeant of the Academy and others of that 
class.” In the long warm summer days the boys 
often played truant towards evening, Woolwich was 
a place of many delights at that time, including even 
fishing, for the Thames there was then a beautiful 
clear stream boasting salmon. But the great attrac¬ 
tion to the Napier brothers was the Artillery practice— 
especially the mortar practice. “ Posted far in advance 
of the firing, with the keen sight of those days, we 
could see the course of a shell, or even round shot, as 
it flew from the gun, and we used to rush after it. 
Sometimes in our impatience we arrived before the 
shot! We used to rush to knock the fuses out of the 
shells which had missed exploding. (Those were the 
days of beech wood fuses.) We were allowed to carry 
them off—as a sort of fireworks.” 

Napier’s education was continued in this desultory 
fashion for about two years, until his uncle, Mr. George 
Carrington, took him in hand, secured for him the 


promise of a cadetship in the East India Company’s 
service, and sent him to school at Hall Place in the 
vale of Bexley by way of preparation for the college 
at Addiscombe. 

Napier spent nearly four years at Hall Place, and 
although he did not learn much from his teachers, 
there is no doubt that the experience did much to 
strengthen and develop his character. The school 
claimed to be considered a military institution. There 
were about 100 boys divided into companies or squads, 
with under-officers and corporals selected from among 
the elder boys. At intervals an officer and a sergeant 
came over from Woolwich to inspect and drill them. 
Each company had its colours, and the boys—the 
privates—all carried pikes. 

Very soon after Napier’s arrival at Hall Place, 
D——. } a noted bully, several years older and very 
much bigger than himself, set on to worry him. Little 
Napier at once challenged him to a fight. They set 
to then and there, but after two or three rounds one 
of the big boys interfered, saying it was out of order 

for a great fellow like D-to fight so small a boy. 

Had the fight gone on, it is scarcely possible that 
Napier could have continued to hold his own; but, 

as it was, he came off well, and D-never meddled 

with him again. 

No details are now available of Napier’s progress at 
Hall Place. It is however known that the only lesson- 
book which really captivated his attention, and that 
from the first, was Csesar, Probably it was about the 
same time that he first became acquainted with Xeno¬ 
phon ; incidental remarks in after-days showed how 
carefully he had read the Anabasis. The taste for the 
Commentaries remained with him through life; a few 


months before his death he was eagerly following up 
Caesar’s traces in Auvergne. 

He was on excellent terms with his school-fellows, 
but made no intimacies, and “ used to wander oS 
alone a good deal in play hours.” He read much in a 
desultory way, and to some purpose, to judge from 
the command of languago which a letter of thiB date 

Before joining at Addiscombe, Napier went for three 
months’ study to stay in London with Mr. Stuart, 
his temporary guardian and legal adviser of his family. 
His mother had by this time transferred her residence 
to Belgium for the sake of economy and the education 
of her eldest daughter, and was living in an old Chateau 
near Ghent. The boy’s first holidays after a term at 
Addiscombe were spent with his mother, and his visits 
abroad did much, not only to give him a good know¬ 
ledge of French, but also to widen his experience of 
life. To him everything was new, and therefore 
charming, while the conditions of life in the old Chateau 
contrasted favourably with their former cramped abode 
at Woolwich. 

At this time, his elder brother Charles, tired of wait¬ 
ing for a vacancy in the Artillery, had obtained, 
through the influence of Colonel James Fullarton, his 
father’s first cousin, a commission in the Rifle Brigade, 
and had gone to Belfast to join his cousin’s battalion 
which was shortly leaving for Halifax. Young Robert, 
aged fourteen, on his return to Addiscombe wrote the 
following letter to his mother in July, 1825 : 

I should have written to you before, but I was determined 
to ascertain whether the Brigade was gone or not. At Green¬ 
wood and Cox’s Office they told me positively that the Brigade 
was not gone, but was only waiting for the transports, which 


would arrive at Belfast in a few days. I think your letters 
are sure of catching him in Ireland. I read his letter to 
Hastings, 1 which he, viz. H., will take over to you. The 
Scratchleys 2 say that it is the finest climate in the world, 
and you should think yourself lucky that it was not the West 
Indies instead of America, . . . Now for myself. I arrived 
at Ostend in time for the table d’hote and slept at the Hotel 
Imperial—the Engleterre 8 being full. I embarked at seven 
in the morning and had a very ruff 4 passage indeed. I was 
very siok and being a little better was going to sleep in my 
berth when the waves, which were very high, burst the skylight 
and gave me such a ducking as soon awoke me, but I turned 
into another berth and was soon set to rights. It was too 
dark 6 —so I was forced to proceed to town where I arrived 
at one o’clock in the morning and was forced to sleep in the 
Ship Tavern. I am now quite well—hope you are all the 
same. Give my love to my sisters, Bell, 8 Eddy, Dolly. And 
remembrances to Mitchells—Duvemets. 

Believe me, dear Mother, 

Your most affectionate of Bons, 

Robert Napier. 

P.S.—Charles belongs to the battalion which is to go but is 
not yet gone. The regiment will return in two or three years. 
That’s Poz. 

Napier’s Addiscombe contemporaries in after-life 
described him as a gay, frank, engaging boy, full of 
spirit and ever ready for a frolic ; with a high sense of 
honour and good abilities, but giving little promise, 
in their eyes, of future distinction. Napier himself 
said of this time : “I worked hard, not from ambition 

1 Lord Hastings was then at the Charter House, where his 
holidays began in August. 

2 Dr. Scratchley was an old Ceylon friend and adviser. 

8 and 4 The only slips in spelling ; the handwriting is that of a 
grown-up person, and excellent. 

5 Too late to do anything at Dover ; he may have been instructed 
to call on some friends Mrs. Napier had there. 

8 Lady Arabella Hastings and her younger brothers. 


or love of study, but because I saw that my first duty 
was to relieve my mother of my maintenance.” 

Amongst Napier’s contemporaries at Addiscombe, a 
few of whom became intimate friends for life, were 
William Baker, “ the most perfect friend that any 
man ever had.” Other friends and colleagues of after¬ 
days included Henry Durand and Robert Montgomery, 
Eldred Pottinger, the heroic defender of Herat, and that 
gallant soldier, Vincent Eyre. 

Napier remained some two years at Addiscombe; 
it was his personal desire to leave it on the first oppor¬ 
tunity, and enter the Royal Artillery, his father’s arm, 
but he was persuaded by his uncle, Mr. Carrington, to 
stay on another term, to which his age entitled him, 
and pass the examination for the Engineers. This he 
accomplished at the end of December, 1826, but before 
proceeding to Chatham to complete his studies as an 
officer of Engineers, he took a lodging at Woolwich, 
instead of spending his holidays with his mother in 
Belgium and studied mathematics with a tutor. 
Monsieur Barard. Thus he obviated the necessity of 
a further return to Addiscombe in order to complete 
the course, which would otherwise have been requisite 
in spite of his having passed for Engineers. 

This period of study proved of great benefit to him, 
and he entered Chatham fairly equipped with know¬ 
ledge, and animated by a quietly resolute spirit that 
was in itself a guarantee of success. In after-life ho 
always spoke of the year spent at Chatham as one of 
the happiest of his recollection. He had not wished 
to be an engineer, but the spirit of the place and the 
work went far to reconcile him to the service he had 
chosen, and into which he now threw himself heart 
and soul. 


In a letter written many years later he said : “I 
always feel a deep obligation to our old Chatham 
School, to Pasley and our senior officers who inculcated 
such a high standard of the duty of an Engineer, 
whether official or Private.” Colonel Pasley, the 
Director and Founder of the R.E. Establishment, was 
not usually popular with the ensigns. But Napier 
appreciated his high ideal of efficiency. The spirit in 
which he taught and Napier learnt is well reflected in 
the following story which Lord Napier liked to tell 
against himself. Having been given as a subject the 
siege of Paris, the projections and calculations for the 
construction of batteries, trenches, fascines, gabions, 
etc., occupied him closely for a considerable time. 
When this work had been prepared, as he believed, 
thoroughly, it was submitted to the Director, who, 
however, returned it to him for correction. Napier 
again worked out all his details, but without detecting 
any error. He then carried his work back to Pasley, 
whom he now asked to explain where the mistake lay. 
Pasley replied: “ Your projections are excellent, but 
you have forgotten a needle and thread. For, all 
having been successfully accomplished, and your mines 
prepared, the omission of a needle and thread to 
secure the hose with the powder to ignite the great 
mine under the enemy’s works, might have had a 
most serious result.” Napier never forgot the lesson, 
and in after-years, as his devoted friend and Staff 
Officer, Sir Martin Dillon, related, when examining a 
project of reform or the like, he would say: “ It is all 
a question of the needle and thread.” 

At Chatham, at the Royal Engineers’ Mess, Napier 
came in contact with several officers who had served 
with distinction in the great days of the Peninsular 


War, and he often spoke in after-life of the stimulus 
that he derived from the contact, even the mere 
presence, of such men at the outset of his career. In 
a speech which he delivered at Cairo in 1883 at a dinner 
given in his honour by the officers of Royal Engineers, 
Napier dwelt on this aspect of Chatham, and one of 
the officers then present remarked afterwards : “ We 
never heard a speech before that gave us so much to 
think about.” 

In writing to a brother officer in 1871, Napier said : 
“ I do not think any position really higher than that 
of an engineer who, unexcited by the actual strife of 
battle, amid the unknown dangers of the dark night, 
or in the face of contending combatants by day, 
exercises a calm judgment and walks in the presence 
of death with a calm and steady courage under the 
consciousness that on his skill and judgment depend 
the fate of thousands, or the issue of a campaign.” 

On the completion of his course at Chatham, Napier 
made his preparations for immediate service in India, 
and then, about midsummer, 1828, went over to 
Flanders to take leave of his mother. 



Aligarh—Doab Canal—Calcutta—Darj eeling—Marriage— 

Lieutenant Napier reached Calcutta in November, 
1828, and it was no figure of speech when he referred 
in after-days to having landed in India without a 
connection in the country or a friend except his fellow- 
cadets. He had indeed been duly provided with 
introductions, but a chance occurrence having stirred 
his sensitive pride, he decided not to use them and 
tore up all his letters. In later years Lord Napier 
referred to this impulsive act as a “ bad example,” 
but personally he never for a moment regretted his 
boyish resolve to “ trust only to his name and sword.” 

His first destination, after a few weeks’ stay at 
Calcutta, was the Head-quarters of the Bengal Sappers 
at Alighar, 800 miles up country. The Ganges was 
then the highway, and the journey by boat as far 
as Cawnpore occupied some three months. A Govern¬ 
ment flotilla, formed of some thirty pinnaces, was 
towed up the river, each boat containing three officers. 
In this way the romantic city of Benares was visited 
by Napier, and a letter to the Maharajah of Benares 
some sixty years later testifies to the indelible impres¬ 
sion created on his mind by the grandeur and beauty 
of its site and buildings. 



At Aligarh, Napier’s first task was to make a survey 
of that celebrated fortress on behalf of his Com- 
iftanding Officer, Captain de Bude, who was occupied 
in strengthening the defences, and who promptly lost 
the young officer’s painstaking effort before he had 
time to make use of it. According to Napier, de Bude 
was a man of fine character, much originality and 
great ability, who, but for his early death, might have 
risen to high distinction. Lodged at first in the same 
house with de Bude and eight other young Engineer 
officers, Napier soon tired of the interruptions inci¬ 
dental to such a life, and obtained permission to take 
up his abode in an empty bungalow close by, where 
he was freer, while continuing his work as an engineer, 
to devote his spare time to the study of Hindustani 
under a moonshi. Here also he took the opportunity 
of conversing with old Native Officers and others, wit¬ 
nesses of the stormy period when Lord Lake closed 
with his French and Mahratta adversaries in the 
decisive struggle at Alighar, and these early impressions 
accounted for the very vivid conception which Lord 
Napier had of the old Mahratta warfare, of which he 
would speak with almost the familiarity of an eye¬ 

Some months later, in June, 1829, Napier was 
appointed to the command of a company of the 1st 
Bengal Sappers stationed at Delhi, he being the only 
one of his contemporaries who had learnt anything of 
the language. 

Here also, partly owing to scanty means, he occupied 
an empty and derelict bungalow, which, however, had 
a fine view across the Jumna, and possessed the 
advantage of being near the men of his company. 
His professional duties gave him ample occupation, 


and his leisure time was largely taken up in reading 
Shakespeare and other classical authors, so that time 
never hung heavily on his hands. Moreover, the 
company was in so unsatisfactory a condition, that 
upon him fell the task of necessary reforms. The 
old Subadhar (Native Officer) “ had to abandon his 
embroidered slippers, and go to the works properly 
dressed.” Days were set apart for regular drill and 
target practice which had long been forgotten. The 
return to strict discipline raised some opposition which 
was put down by prompt punishment, and very soon 
an excellent understanding grew up between the com¬ 
pany and their commander. Napier had to keep all 
the muster rolls and accounts himself, and considered 
the experience so valuable that many years later, when 
commanding the Central India Field Force, he ex¬ 
pressed a wish that he might bo the Commander-in- 
Chief for a brief period to be able to issue an order 
that no officer should be eligible for promotion to 
Captain who had not written up the troop or company 
records with his own hand for six months. 

The extent of ancient Delhi and the magnificence of 
its monuments impressed the 19-year-old boy very 
deeply, and he was eager to learn all he could gather 
from books and from current tradition of their origin. 
Nor was it difficult to gratify such tastes. The Delhi 
College was a centre of Oriental learning, and the small 
English society included several men of exceptional 
knowledge and cultivation. Elphinstone’s history was 
still unwritten, but many valuable accounts of special 
periods were attainable, and these Napier eagerly 
sought and read. Great events of Indian history were 
brought very near in those days by the survivors of 
many stirring periods. Akbar, the aged son of Shah 


Alum II, still maintained his titular sovereignty with 
some magnificence, and in his celebrated stables 
Napier saw the elephant ridden by Nadir Shah in his 
triumphant progress at the great invasion and massacro 
of 1740. The ruthless Afghan Chief Nawab Gholam 
Kadir, who struck out Shah Alum’s eyes in 1788, was 
living unmolested at no great distance from Delhi, 
and Mademoiselle Perron, the daughter of the daring 
French adventurer, who was the guiding spirit of the 
great Mahratta storm of 1803, was a ward at the 
Residency. The interest quickened at Delhi never 
faded, and near the end of his long life Napier said 
that the poetry and romance—the truth stranger than 
fiction—of Indian History could bo equalled by nothing 
except some passages in the Old Testament. 

The insight into Native character and the sympathy 
with which he treated Natives stood him in good stead 
throughout his career, and some fifty years later Lord 
Napier stated that he had made it the rule of his life, 
as much from public duty as from personal sympathy, 
to strive that every Native of whatever class he met 
should leavo him with a friendly impression. 

A severe attack of fever and pleurisy overtook 
Napier as the result of exposure in a shooting expedi¬ 
tion, and laid him up for about three months. At 
tho close of the period, about April, 1830, he was able 
to take sick leave to the Hills and visited Mussoorie. 
When on the march thither, he visited Lieutenant 
Cautley of the Artillery, whom he had met previously, 
on the Doab Canal, and travelled with him for some 
days. Mussoorie was at this time a sequestered spot, 
abounding in wild life of all kinds. Among the forest 
trees the oak and rhododendron were the largest, the 
latter being at this season in full blossom. The natural 


beauty of the region enchanted Napier, who always 
looked back on this his first sojourn in the Himalayas 
with especial pleasure. Presumably as the result of 
his meeting with Cautley, ho made application and 
was selected for employment on the Canal Department, 
then a coveted branch of the service, and after returning 
to his post at Delhi for the ensuing winter, joined his 
new appointment early in March, 1831, as assistant to 
Lieutenant Proby Cautley on the Doab Canal, now 
styled the Eastern Jumna Canal. 

Here took place his first meeting with Henry 
Lawrence, to whom he was afterwards bound by ties 
of close friendship and affection. Very soon after his 
arrival at Cautley’s head-quarters, a very odd-looking 
visitor made his appearance there. His attire was 
astonishing, even for the jungle—“ I think I never saw 
so disreputable a looking figure anywhere i and his 
first greeting to Napier was : “ So you are the fellow 
who did me out of the canals ! ” Apparently Napier, 
who had been the prior applicant, had been repre¬ 
sented to Cautley, quite untruly, by some unknown 
person, as not caring for the appointment, and Cautley 
had therefore replied to his brother officer, Lieutenant 
Henry Lawrence, that he would be most glad to have 
him. This was pending Napier’s refusal, to whom he 
then wrote. The acquaintance thus unfavourably 
begun soon became friendly, and when Lawrence 
decided to aim at the Revenue Department, it was 
Napier who initiated him into the use of the simple 
surveying instruments required. 

The Doab Canal dates from Moghul times. The 
author is said to have been a Persian noble of great 
engineering skill who served under Shah Jehan about 
1657. It taps the Jumna just below its issue from the 



hills, and, following a nearly direct course, discharges 
into the same river below Delhi. The project was a 
grand one, but was never completed by the ancients, 
which is not surprising, seeing that it taxed to the 
utmost the greater knowledge and resources of their 
English successors. The first of these was a Captain 
Smith, appointed in 1823. A follower of the North- 
Italian school, the records of which formed the only 
great body of teaching then available, it is probable 
that his desire to apply their principles to a country 
widely differing from Northern Italy, may have been 
the cause of the partial failure which attended his 
work. Cautley was appointed his assistant in 1825, 
and succeeded him four years later. The canal had 
hitherto been constructed at a uniform depth of 4 feet 
from the surface level of the country, irrespective of 
the natural fall which in parts was excessive. Nor 
was much attention paid to the varying consistency 
of the bed. The result was that when the water was 
admitted in January, 1830, the rapids which formed 
on the steeper slopes threatened the destruction of 
nearly all the bridges north of Saharunpore, while the 
deposits of sand and silt along the lower levels necessi¬ 
tated the continual raising of the embankment to 
maintain the? canal in its bed. Cautley, while providing 
temporary palliatives, proceeded to reduce the entire 
bed of the canal to a uniform inclination of 17 to 24 
inches per mile, sufficient to keep the stream clear 
without provoking erosive action. 

Matters were still in a most critical stage when 
Napier became Cautley’s assistant. For some time 
their task was a daily hand-to-hand fight against both 
time and nature, demanding unsparing work, ceaseless 
vigilance, and, on Cautley’s part, constant promptness 


of invention and fertility of resource. Four months 
after joining, Napier was left in charge of the canal 
during the absence on leave of his Chief, and had*to 
meet alone the emergency of a flood of unusual magni¬ 
tude which burst the great Mas Kurra dam. The 
measures which Napier extemporized to lessen the 
damage by means of large crates of 10-foot battens 
loaded with burnt bricks, becamo thereafter a standard 
remedy in similar difficulties. On Cautley’s return 
from leave, Napier was sent by him to build a small 
canal and mill without the aid of an overseer, that he 
might learn the details of the construction of embank¬ 
ments and masonry, accounts, rates of pay, etc. 
Napier, to whom tho work was entirely new, sent back 
anxious inquiries as to the proper proportions to be 
used in making cement, but the only reply he received 
was : “ That is just what you are there to find out! ” 
However, in spite of the lack of experience and the 
absenco of skilled workmen, the canal and mills were 
built, and the result was so satisfactory that when 
Colonel Cautley, some twenty years later, published 
his account of the canals, he reported of the Shanli 
mills: “ The buildings are perfect, they were con¬ 
structed under the immediate eye of Lieutenant Robert 
Napier, of the Engineers, in 1831-32, and are, in my 
opinion, among the best of the canal works,” 

Napier remained five years on the Doab Canal; the 
work was most arduous, and the prolonged solitude 
so complete, as at times to tax even Napier’s faculty 
of self-companionship. In recording Cautlcy’s services 
some fifty years later, Napier wrote of this period: 
“ No country gave us any example that at all assisted 
us ; the work was entirely the result of Cautley’s 
unswerving devotion to the study of tho subject. 


Except a month or six weeks in autumn, we had no 
holidays, not even Sunday.” Napier could have 
learned his profession in no better school. Cautley, 
“ full of intellect and kindness,” as Napier described 
him in after-days, was, perhaps, in all his career the 
only man who exercised a strong personal influence 
ovor Napier, who often spoke of him as “ My Master.” 

The following extracts from letters written to his 
mother during this period are of interest: 

I have been, since I last wrote to you, out in my camp 
carrying on my works quietly and in solitude, which was only 
broken once when an old friend came to see me and took me 
down to Delhi for a change. 1 had been growing rather tired 
of myself and camp, and had some strange wishes. I believe 
I almost wished to be married. Not from any fair lady boing 
in the case, for I have not seen one fairer than my hoot for 
months, hut from a feeling of vacancy in my heart (I think I 
sec Ange and Emmy 1 looking very impudent as you read 
this), which wanted filling up ; but a few days of Delhi society 
and scandal, and being teazed to call children pretty against 
my conscience, sent me back to my camp quite contented 
again. I pulled on my red nightcap, and smoked a double 
allowance of cigars, and vowed never to be such a fool 
again. . . . 

With what contempt I look upon English ideas of travelling 
and distance. My dominions extend for 150 miles, and I may 
sometimes traverse it three times in a month, not like a 
cockney with a spare shirt and pocket-handkerchief, but with 
all my bag and baggage, sheep, goats, fowls, camels, bullocks 
and horses. . . . 

I live a very regular methodical life now—either a maroh in 
the morning, or a ride to visit my works. I return in time to 
dress for breakfast by nine o’clock and enjoy a book for an 
hour, after which I commence my business and remain em¬ 
ployed till four, when I take a light dinner, and walk or ride 
to some canal work. The evening is the most solitary time, 

1 Sisters of Napier. 


I do not feel alone in the day, but in the quiet hour of evening 
when everything is still, I could wish sometimes to meet a 
familiar face. True, I have some Native acquaintances, but 
a pillow dressed up would be just as entertaining. An old 
fat Zemindar (land-owner) comes occasionally to pay me a 
visit, and ask questions about the Feringhees or Europeans. 
He wishes very much to know why I do not marry. I tell 
him I wait till I can get to my own country where wives are 
very cheap—I can buy three there for the price of one hero. 
I do not think any other answer would satisfy him. . . . 

I could not help thinking of Bruges and the society thero 

when I saw B-. Of all the people whom we met daily, 

how few I shall ever see again. The Hastings ! 1 They were 
brothers and sisters to us, and whatever has passed, by Hast¬ 
ings’ conduct, has passed away as all offences and injuries 
should. I remember only the person whom I loved as a 
brother—and Edward, 2 and Godolphin, 3 the lovely child that 
wo all doted on. What has become of him ? I think of these 
things until I feel ready to overflow, though my eye has be¬ 
come somewhat harder than it used to be. . . . 

You would pity mo if you could hear the rain pouring down 
in one continued shower on my unhappy tent—however it 
keeps out. It is very unpleasant—all my servants are getting 
fever, but I beep well, although my general health has suffered, 
and requires to be renovated by a visit to Europe. The mind 
has as much effect as anything else, and I have the “ mal du 
pays ” and long to see you all. 

Now, my kindest Mother, may God bless you, 

Ever Your Affectionate son, 

R. C. Napier. 

Napier’s short intervals of leisure were always turned 
to good account. He kept up his drawing (he had a 

1 Francis, Lord Hastings, b. 1808, succeeded his father in 1828 
as 12th Earl of Huntingdon—died 1875. He proposed to Miss 
Emilia Napier and resented her refusal. 

8 Afterwards Captain the Hon. Edward P. H. R, Hastings, born 
1818, fell at the relief of Arrah (Oct. 19, 1857), in which he boro a 
very distinguished part. 

* Born 1820. Entered the Church and died 1805. 


clever knack of hitting off portraits at this time) and 
read extensively—French literature as well as English— 
he also acquired a little Persian, and improved his 
acquaintance with Hindustani. Then the jungle was 
full of game, and the morning round was often com¬ 
bined with a little shooting. His delight in swimming 
was another healthy outlet to which he was much 

In this manner he contrived to keep fit until April 
or May, 1835, when he had to undertake some very 
hard survej'ing work in the hottest time of year, and 
fell seriously ill. As soon as he recovered to some 
extent, he went on sick leave to the Hills, but having 
failed to restore his health, he decided to take three 
years’ furlough to Europe, and started from Calcutta 
early in 1836. The voyage in those days lasted six 
months, a period which he found none too long: “ I 
enjoyed the voyage immensely, and had no wish for 
it to end. I had a good library with me, and with 
this and a little sketching, and the music on deck, I 
had plenty of amusement. How I delighted in the 
storms—those grand storms of the Southern Seas ! ” 
At the outset of the voyage, the Purser fell ill and died, 
and Napier volunteered to carry on the work, as the 
Captain was very short-handed. This gave him a 
curious insight into many details of ship life, which he 
doubtless turned to good account in later days, when 
superintending the embarkation of troops, etc. Soon 
afterwards the ship’s surgeon fell into a brain fever, 
and it was Napier who sat up with him at nights 
through many hours of delirium and sponged his 
shaven head with vinegar and water. At length they 
reached the Cape, where the Captain settled the surgeon 
in comfortable lodgings, and Napier was the good 


Samaritan that left him a little money for his comfort. 
Another little incident of the voj^age is perhaps worth 
recording. While at anchor at the Cape in Simons* 
Bay, and enjoying the hospitality of Cape Town, 
Napier was appealed to by an officer of the sister 
service, the Royal Artillery, to second him in a duel 
with the first officer of another ship lying at anchor 
in the Bay, both having fallen in love with the same 
lady on board. 

It was a beautiful day, and I was just starting on an excur¬ 
sion—it was a horrid bore, but of course I had to go. We 
called at his antagonist's hotel, but he was not there. So 
we drove down to Simons Bay. I sent on board a message 
saying that Mr. --had asked me to act for him, and request¬ 

ing the officer to come on shoro. At first he seemed unwilling 
to come, and as I could not waste my time there, I sent a 
second message to say that if he did not come, I should have 
to go to him on board. That brought him. Then I looked 
very grim, and asked them both a great many questions. 
Finally, putting on a most judicial air, I told them that I 
thought they had both, on their own showing, behaved ex¬ 
ceedingly ill, and that the only course open to them was for 
them both to apologise to each other. So I made them 
apologise and shake hands, and then we drove back to Cape 

On arrival home, Napier rejoined his mother in 
Belgium, and associated a good deal with the officers 
of the newly formed Belgian army, and for a time 
enjoyed the change and comparative novelty of the 
life there, especially the long rides with his Belgian 
friends. Early the following year he crossed over to 
England, paid a visit to his brother of the Rifle Brigade, 
then quartered at Dover Castle. Napier was twenty- 
five years of age, and his brother, who had last seen 
him as a boy of fourteen, reported that Robert was 


much changed, “ in many things for the better, but 
there are some few faults he has, that can only be 
cured by the society of ladies, and alas, I fear he was 
never formed to lead a domestic life. All his thoughts 
seem centred in Indian Independence.” Mrs. Napier 
wrote on the same sheet: “ Robert went with us to a 
party and a dance. I had the honour of dancing 
twice with the Indian Chief; an honour too that I 
wished to disencumber him of, seeing there were so 
many pretty young single ladies at hand, but no, he 
declined. And at length danced with a lady of the 
spinster age, who resolutely stuck to him all night.” 

Visits to relations in London and Buckinghamshire 
followed, and by the summer Napier was back in 
Belgium, studying the Belgian canal system, and also 
the scene of the recent siege of Antwerp. In Napier’s 
copy of the history of the siege, written by an English 
officer who was present, the author notes that the 
Dutch squadron, ably commanded, gallantly manned, 
and mounting nearly 200 piece's, was compelled to 
retire from the Scheldt by a small improvised land 
battery. Against this Napier wrote in the margin: 
“ When the Dutch fleet commanded by (Ruyter) 
ascended tho Medway, it was checked by a small 
battery at Upnor.” 

During the subsequent winter, Bruges, where his 
mother was then living, became his head-quarters. 
His studies at this time included mediaeval architecture, 
geology and Italian. Lessons in the latter he obtained 
from Signor Terelli, a political refugoo of some literary 
distinction. He sketched diligently, read much French 
literature, and interested himself in the Flemish people 
and their history. All this time, his eyes, which had 
suffered during his illness from the Indian glare, con- 


tinued to give him much pain, and he often sought 
distraction in games of chess with a worthy old Dutch 
pastor. But the life must have been irksome to a 
man of his profession, active habits and experience, 
and in May, 1838, he went on a walking tour to the 
Ardennes. A portrait of him carrying a knapsack and 
wearing a blue Flemish blouse was painted by Vanacker, 
a Flemish artist of repute, at his mother’s request. 
After a somewhat lengthy stay at Chaud’fontaine in 
the heart of the Ardennes, where he derived much 
benefit from the hot baths, he went up the Rhine by 
water, and saw something of the new Prussian defences 
at Coblentz, and at Mayence was present at a great 
review of the Austrian and Prussian troops which 
then jointly garrisoned that place. The Prussian army 
at this time gave little promise of its subsequent 
efficiency, and his recollections of 1838 suggested some 
interesting reflections to Lord Napier at the German 
Manoeuvres of 1876. 

From Mayenco he turned homewards. The time 
for his return to India was now drawing near. During 
his stay in Belgium he had met a young lady staying 
with his sister Emily, by name Anne Pearse, whoso 
parents were about to return to India, taking their 
young daughter with them. Napier, after an acquain¬ 
tance of some eighteen months, now realized the place 
that she had taken in his heart, and had expressed 
his hopes to Mrs. Pearse, and his wish that they might 
make the journey to Madras by the same vessel. 
Apparently his suit was not much favoured by tho 
parents, as Mrs. Pearse and her party preceded him 
to India, while Napier spent some weeks in looking 
over various establishments in England and Wales, 
including iron works and a copper mine. Finally at| 


Plymouth, before embarking, he carefully examined 
the Harbour Works. Thus Napier never lost an oppor¬ 
tunity of improving his technical knowledge, and the 
experience gained at Plymouth was turned to good 
account in later years, when concerned with the harbour 
of Bombay and its defences. 

Napier appears to have reached Madras towards 
the end of January, 1839. Miss Pearse’s father had 
not the personal knowledge of Lieutenant Napier 
possessed by his wife, and also may naturally have been 
unwilling to lose immediately the daughter whom he 
had j ust recovered. Moreover, Napier’s prospects were 
somewhat uncertain. After a month or two of painful 
suspense at Madras, Napier appears to have obtained 
a somew'hat grudging consent to an engagement, on 
tho condition that a suitable appointment should 
precede marriage. On March 8 he sailed for Calcutta, 
where he became the guest of his old friend de Bude. 
He was offered and accepted the post of Acting 
Executive Engineer of tho Burrisal Division of Eastern 

This appointment made him responsible for all Civil 
buildings and stores throughout a Division which 
included the Hill State of Tiperah, both banks of the 
Ganges and the Megna, the latter being a river 15 miles 
in width, together with the islands of Battia and Sunda. 
Nobody in Calcutta appeared to know where the office 
of this Division was situated, but at last he discovered 
that it lay some twenty days’ journey thence. A 
letter written by him about May of this year described 
the situation: 

The station has a pretty appearance from the river which 
almost surrounds it. The rains lay a groat part of the country 
under water, but this soon runs off, and the tide wash keeps 


everything clean. . . . The rains are unusually early and 
heavy, so that for several days I could not go out, and sat 
at my door looking wistfully at the stable and tho sky, whilst 
the frogs, taking advantage of the puddles, advanced their 
scoundrel throats close up, and scorned crying and groaning 
at me in chorus. 

It was a weary time no doubt, and Napier beguiled 
the time in writing projects of the future to his fiancee. 

I have such plans of happiness, Annie. First our morning 
rides. ... I do not mean you to be excluded from my hours 
of study—on the contrary, I hope to be assisted in them by you 
when you have not more agreeable avocations. And tho 
moment I am freo from business, our reading and occupations 
will be shared. In tho evening our drive. . . . And after¬ 
wards we will praotise your songs and wo will read agreeable 
books to each other. Every place affords local amusements, 
e.g. botany, if not mado a labour, drawing (Chittagong is a 
most picturesque place), and collections of Natural History. 

He quotes Sir William Jones’ account of Chittagong 
(near the mouth of the Ganges), adding: “ Wo must 
read his life.” In another letter he quotes from the 
same source the beautiful lines: 1 

On Parent knees, a naked new-born child, 

Weeping thou sat’st, while all around thee smiled. 

So live, that sinking in thy last long sleep, 

Calm thou may’st smile while all around thee weep. 

Napier, however, was not destined to bring his 
bride to Chittagong. In tho middle of June, when on 
a tour of inspection of his scattered Division, he 
suddenly received orders to return to Calcutta, and 
proceed to Darjeeling in the Himalayas north of 
Calcutta. About five weeks later ho reached his new 

1 These lines, translated by Sir W. Jones from the Persian, were 
written by Lord Napier in the album of tho Crown Princess (later 
Empress Frederick of Germany) in 1876. 



post, where he arrived in the midst of the rains “ with 
a pair of pitarahs (light baskets slung from a yoke) 
as my sole possession.” He had performed the last 
30 miles on foot, and in August ho wrote his first 
impressions as follows: 

“ The climate and my journey have quite restored 
me from the effects of the fever I had. . . . Besides, 
I had determined not to be ill, as a good deal of work 
was expected of me. . . . From the first station in 
the Hills, called Punkabari, the road was through a 
superb forest of oak and rhododendron. . . . The view 
from this place is very fine—its elevation is 6,000 feet, 
and you see over the plains to an immense distance.” 
At the end of this march, he had to put up in a shed, 
where he dined off rice and read an old number of 
Blackwood by the light of a wick dipped in oil, and 
thence walked into Darjeeling. “ The people there 
expected me to arrive quite exhausted, and were 
prepared to be compassionate. So when they asked 
me if I had not had a very uncomfortable night, I 
replied, ‘ Oh no. I had all the luxuries of the season 
and Blackwood's Magazine .’ When they heard that, 
they wrote down to Calcutta, ‘ This is the fellow to suit 
us. Let us keep him.’ ” 

Napier’s immediate duties were to lay out the new 
settlement, and to establish easy communication with 
the plains 7,000 feet below. When he first began his 
work, the forest was so dense that all he could do 
was to slowly grope his way from point to point and 
ridge to ridge with the theodolite. Having no trained 
assistants, he enrolled, at his own charge, a small body 
of Hill men, whom he taught in a measure to supply 
their places. “ They formed my bodyguard, and with 
their help I got on very well. They were such nice 


simple people ; except the headman, who knew a little 
Hindustani, none of them had ever been in contact 
with Europeans before. With them to carry my 
things, I was able to plunge into the junglo when I 
pleased and for as long as I pleased.” Living most 
of the time on tea, rice and sardines, varied by an 
occasional pheasant from the jungles, sleeping in a 
rough hut thrown up by bis Hill men—sometimes 
without even that—Napier served an apprenticeship 
that stood him in good stead thereafter. 

On September 15, writing to his fianc6c, Napier 
said: “ I wished to send you some sketches, but have 
not had a moment’s time to make them. I received 
my charge here in a worse confusion than the last 
one, and have been working without the assistance of 
any writer or accountant. I have sent to Calcutta 
for a good one, when I hope to have more time. I 
have already done what has not been done in the whole 
of the preceding year—sent in a report and a plan of 
the place.” And this in the rainy season when nis 
friends predicted that he would not even be able to 
get there. 

“ The rain is constant, as in all the Hills, but tho 
climate extremely fine and health} 7 . When the clouds 
disperse for an hour or two, the view of an extensive 
valley, bounded by endless waves of mountains 
crowned by the snowy Himala, is very grand.” 

On September 25 he wrote again : “ All this exqui¬ 
site climate is thrown away upon me without you 
to share it. . . . I have been busily occupied on 
the survey—every step has to be cut through the 

Some three months later ho was fretting to get leave, 
but doubted whether it would be granted: 


Everything that depended on myself has been done. All 
who ought to have assisted me have failed. The magistrates 
who were pledged to secure me people have not done so. 
I have been obliged to advance money on my own personal 
risk like a prodigal to an amount which quite frightens me, 
but it is my only chance of getting anything forward. I am 
now encamped at the foot of tho Hills, giving my personal 
superintendence to the road here, which is climbing the hill 
along the face of a precipice. Every step has to bo cut out 
of the rock by means of gun-powder, so that it goes on slowly. 
Beneath me aro the plains spread out like a map. . , . 

The chief dangers to life were from wind and cold. 
Storms were of extraordinary severity. When a 
blizzard overtook the coolies, they had to drop their 
loads and hasten to the nearest shelter. Failure to do 
this resulted in death, and this occasionally occurred 
when the coolies would not leave their loads, or the 
postmen their letter-bags. One charm of this wild 
life was perhaps its uncertainty. In Napier’s words: 
“ W en you pitched your tent at night, you never 
know but a tree would come down and make an end 
of you on the spot.” 

At length, nearly a year later, Napier succeeded in 
getting leave. The journey to Calcutta, however, 
involved such hardships that, on arrival there, he fell 
ill of jungle fever, and for six weeks hovered between 
life and death. At the end of that time he was carried 
on board ship, bound for Madras. The vessel was 
becalmed, and the voyage lasted thirty days. It was 
the best possible thing for Napier. The doctor 
declared that nothing but the object before him could 
have saved his life. 

At Madras Napier’s long patience at last found its 
reward. On September 3, 1840, he was married, and 
thenceforward seems to have found in his wife the 


fulfilment of all his hopes. Her letters remain to 
attest the perfect unselfishness, the steadfastness of her 
pure, guileless, and loving nature. But such records can 
convey little of that special personal charm which, even 
more than her grace and beauty, won all hearts—won 
and kept them, for Mrs. Napier never lost a friend. 

After a brief holiday spent in the neighbourhood of 
Madras, Napier returned with his wife to Darjeeling. 
A letter dated November, 1840, affords a pleasant 
glimpse of Mrs. Napier: 

The constant bustle of travelling night after night with 
few intervals of rest is very trying, but Annie is such an 
excellent and intelligent traveller that she found a thousand 
objeots of interest to dissipate her fatigue and break the 
weariness of palanquin travelling. The mountain air, the 
scenery, luxuriant vegetation and beautiful flowers were so 
exciting and attractive that all my efforts to keep her in her 
sedan chair were fruitless, so we strolled up the hill together, 
gathering large bouquets of flowers and ferns, laughing and 
talking more like two truants escaped from school, than an 
old subaltern and his wife. She is an excellent mountaineer, 
knows not fear, and has already made friends and assiduous 
slaves of the Lepehas. ... I feel daily moro sensible of her 

During Napier’s absence a house had been built 
for him at Darjeeling, and his kind friend, Dr. Campbell, 
had done everything to make it comfortable. In 
January, 1841, Napier wrote: “ Our little garden is 
struggling to emancipate itself ffom the shade of the 
forest. Between the great labour of clearanco and 
our reluctance to cut down trees which were flourishing 
in the days of Akbar or Humayun, it makes little 
progress. It seems to me so poor an exchange to 
give a tree of hundreds of years, perhaps, for cabbages 
and potatoes.” 


His first child was born on the 14th October, 1841, 
and named Catherine after Napier’s mother. Mean¬ 
while Napier had been appointed Executive Engineer 
of the Sirhind Division, but the Calcutta Committee, 
interested in the establishment of Darjeeling, thought 
so highly of his work that they took the unusual step 
of protesting against his transfer, and that so earnestly, 
that the Government consented to defer his removal 
until the autumn of 1842. 

In January of that year Mrs. Napier wrote: 

I have indeed every reason to be thankful to God for the 
great blessings Ho has bestowed on me, and to be proud of 
my beloved husband. He is beloved by the Natives ... he 
never turns away from their complaints. ... I must give 
you a sketch of what he has to do. In the first place he has 
three roads all going on at the same time, and the survey 
of the Dalagunge road to make out—a work of time and 
anxiously looked for by the Military Board and Lord Auckland. 
Then comes his own office, letters, etc., and lastly, all Dr. 
Campbell’s 1 business—political, magisterial, dak-master,* and 
a dozen other things. Yesterday ho had five cases to try. 
Ho certainly is not an idle servant of the Company. 

The time for leaving Darjeeling and its romantic 
forest life was now at hand. His Chief, in reporting 
to the Government, said: “It has so frequently been 
my duty to report on the value of the services done 
by Captain Napier while he was employed here, that 
I have nothing now to add farther than that the 
completion of his roads especially, and of his other 
works generally, is very much to the credit of the 
zealous and able character he has held.” 

“ I have sent for a large safe pinnace to travel in, 

1 The Superintendent, Dr. Campbell, was then absent on a 
political mission. 

* Postmaster. 


and Annie will have no trouble, I hope,” wrote Napier 
on June 25, 1842, when proceeding to take up his 
new appointment. It is strange in these days to think 
of travelling by boat to get from Darjeeling to Umballa, 
but such was indeed the case, and the voyage up the 
River Ganges was not without incident. One night, 
when moored to the ghaut at Dinapur a severe storm 
arose, broke several ropes and threatened to dash the 
pinnace to pieces against the banks. With great 
difficulty Napier succeeded in getting his wife and 
child ashore in their night clothes, and all three, 
bare-footed, followed by their servants and the crew, 
struggled on in the dark with just enough room for 
their feet between the edge of the river bank and a high 
wall, until they were able to take shelter in an officer’s 
house near the river. 

The pinnace managed to survive, although many 
other boats were lost during that night. 

On arrival at Allahabad some six weeks later, Napier 
received orders from the Governor-General, Lord Ellen- 
borough, to join his Division without loss of time, 
which entailed his proceeding to Kurnaul by express, 
as his services were urgently required for the construc¬ 
tion of barracks. The duties which awaited him 
included the choice of the site for a new cantonment, 
as it had been decided to abandon Kurnaul on account 
of the mortality among the troops there, and the 
urgency was due to the return of troops from service 
in Afghanistan. 

These duties were not only most arduous in them¬ 
selves, but Napier had had no experience of such 
work. Consequently, during his rapid ten days’ 
journey up country, he took the opportunity of visiting 
every cantonment and barrack that lay on his route, 



and consulting every engineer and medical officer whom 
he met. The only useful counsel he received was from 
an officer who said : “ Choose the best land. Remem¬ 
ber that tlie best land is also the healthiest.” 

A brief examination of the country satisfied Napier 
that the most suitable ground for a cantonment was a 
tract lying between the rivers Ghuggar and Sursuti, 
about 4 miles south of the town of Umballa. This 
ascertained, he immediately proceeded to mark out 
the new cantonment; for which he secured no less 
than 25 square miles of ground. Convinced that one 
cause of disease at Kurnaul had been the want of 
adequate ventilation, Napier conceived tho bold and 
novel idea of laying out the lines in echelon, so as to 
secure the maximum of air to all the buildings. The 
result proved so satisfactory that the Government 
subsequently adopted this system in other cantonments. 
In the words of a specially competent observer: 1 
“ The wide roads and spacious gardens and the lofty 
barracks of Umballa constituted the beginning of a 
new epoch in the structure of Indian Cantonments . . . 
the shady avenues of that station were all planted by 
Napier . . . while the Napier barrack for the British 
soldier was cited in those days as a patent example of 
the innate extravagance of the Engineer. It is now 
(1890) recognised to be in reality of a most economical 

Napier was fortunate in having a Chief, Major 
Abbott, R.E., who gave him a free hand and permitted 
him to carry through so bold and original a conception 
on such a scale. Napier’s progress in construction was 

1 General Sir George Chesney, R.E., K.C.B., in the Pioneer, 
January, 1890. Sir G. Cheaney was Military Member of Council in 


extremely rapid, and within five months Major Abbott 
was able to report 1 “ that Captain Napier has been 
indefatigable in his exertions and successful beyond 
hope under the difficulties which have met him. His 
arrangements evince deep thought and consideration 
of the subject in all its bearings. . . . The regiment 
will soon be under cover in six barracks. I believe 
they are so at this time of writing.” 

During this period, Mrs. Napier with her small 
family was at first comfortably housed at Kurnaul in 
the bungalow of Captain Baker, her husband’s dearest 
and oldest friend, but soon transferred her abode to 
Umballa, where they lived in tents until such time 
as the site for Head-quarters could be decided on, and 
a house built for them. In a letter, dated April 13, 
1843, she writes: “ Robert is very thin and sun¬ 
burnt. ... He gets up at day-light, and works till, 
10 at night, only resting at meals, but I hope when he 
gets the European barracks (which are beautiful build¬ 
ings) finished, he will have less worry.” 

However, the incessant grind of work became ever 
more arduous and exacting, the uncertainties of the 
political situation adding to the difficulties of his task; 
Ever since the death of Runjeet Singh (1839) there 
had been chaos in the Punjab, and by the summer of 
1843 the Lahore Government was visibly staggering 
to its fall. It must be remembered that our Govern¬ 
ment had to reckon not only with the independent 
Sikh State of the Five Rivers, but also with the minor 
Sikh States under British protection on the hither side 
of the Sutlej. Unimportant in themselves, they com¬ 
plicated the situation by forming a sort of bridge¬ 
head or point d'appui for their fellow-country- 
1 Inspection Report, dated May 26, 1843. 


men on the far side of the river, in case of a Sikh 

And, as in subsequent years, tho British Government 
hesitated to take any precautions which might tend 
to hasten tho catastrophe, their orders fluctuating with 
the changing aspects of the situation, as this appeared 
more or less imminently critical. 

There is little to record of this period. Napier was 
far too busy to write letters, save occasional hurried 
affectionate notes to his mother, and though many 
pleasant details of his happy homo life are preserved 
in his wife’s correspondence with her parents, these 
are seldom of public interest. 

Meanwhile, Umballa had become the Head-quarters 
of the Division, and an important military and political 

The Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, came 
north, and went over Napier’s works with him, express¬ 
ing warm approval and cordial appreciation of all he 
had accomplished, as indeed did all under whom he 
served. But this sort of success, great as it was, 
could not satisfy Napier as a soldier. Persons who 
knew him at this time have spoken of the grief and 
disappointment it was to him to have served so long 
without seeing a shot fired in anger. In 1843 local 
disturbances at Khythul had led to a British force 
of some 4,000 to 5,000 men being hastily collected, 
and a night march on the fort of that name being 
executed, under the direction of Napier and Yule, 1 
attached as Engineers with the duty of marking out 
the route, etc. But tho enemy had not waited for 
tho attack, the fort was found abandoned, and there 
had been no fighting. Napier feared that he might 
1 Afterwards Colonel Sir Henry Yule, K.C.S.I. 



rise to a comparatively high grade before having had 
the military experience to fit him for his duties. In 
1844 he was occupied in laying out the Hill stations 
of Subathou and Kassaoli, on the route to Simla, 
whither it had now become the custom to migrato for 
the summer months. But Hill climate was pronounced 
unsuitable for his wife, and they remained at Umballa. 
The family had now, 1845, increased by the birth of 
twin sons, and Napier had but recently recovered from 
another attack of ophthalmia. 

In a letter of September, 1845, Napier wrote: “In 
case of ill-health to either of us, England being im¬ 
possible, we shall have to think of the Cape or Australia. 
I propose New Zealand, but since Annie has heard of 
several enterprising Europeans being cooked and eaten, 
she has lost her appetite for the place.” Napier long 
had a hankering after New Zealand, as will be seen 
later. Constantly overworked, and long disappointed 
of the opportunity of military service, burdened with a 
growing family and limited means (from the day he 
drew his first pay as a boy of sixteen to that of his 
mother’s death, he contributed to her support), the 
prospect was far from cheerful. 

In a letter of November, 1845, Mrs. Napier mentioned, 
some interesting visitors to Umballa, Prince Waldemar 
of Prussia and his suite : “I had the honour of dancing 
with Prince Waldemar. ... I found him a most 
agreeable and intelligent partner, very anxious for 
information, and delighted because I could tell him 
something of Darjiling, its inhabitants, its natural 
productions, botany, etc., so that what with a largo 
portion of English and a small one of French, and now 
and then a word of German, we got on remarkably 


Prince Waldemar (travelling as Count Ravensburg) 
had made an unsuccessful attempt to enter Tibet, as 
related in The Career of Major George Broad foot , and 
in September, 1845, was at Simla, and inquired of 
Major Broadfoot whether he should remain or go on, 
his object being to see a Punjab War, etc. Major 
Broadfoot replied that he would be frank with him; 
if the British Government could avoid it, there would 
be no war. “ He evidently thought I was very 
diplomatic, which is generally thought by clever 
continental people when they are frankly dealt with.” 
Thus history repeats itself ! On how many occasions 
have British diplomatists made this discovery ! ! 

At this time neither the Governor-General nor the 
Commander-in-Chief seem to have anticipated serious 
action on the part of the Sikhs, and Mrs. Napier wrote 
in the same letter: “ There 1 , will not be any service 
on the other bank of the Sutlej this year, at which I 
greatly rejoice, for you may imagine with what dread 
I look forward to such an event.” 

This forecast, however, did not prove correct, as 
the ensuing chapter will show. 



Sir Henry Hardinge, a distinguished soldier, was at 
this time Governor-General. Having been appointed 
in place of Lord Ellenborough, of whose forward 
policy the Directors of the East India Company had 
not approved, he was at first anxious to support the 
Sikh Government and avoid a war. Consequently, it 
was not until the Sikh army had crossed the Sutlej 
and invested the British garrison at Ferozepore, that 
troops were hastily summoned from Umballa and 
Ludhiana. Then Sir Hugh Gough, the Commander-in- 
Chief, met and defeated the enemy, first at Moodkee 
and afterwards at Ferozeshah. A temporary retreat 
across the river by the Sikh army was followed by 
their further advance on Ludhiana, which was stopped 
by Sir Harry Smith in the victory of Aliwal on the 
28th January, and finally defeated by Sir Hugh Gough 
in the battle of Sobraon on the 10th February, 1846, 
when the enemy was finally driven across the river 
with great slaughter. 

During these operations the Governor-General is 
said to have placed himself under the orders of the 
Commander-in-Chief, and to have shared with him 
the honour of the victories. Napier, however, has left 
a record which clearly points to a dual control with 
the consequent evils resulting therefrom. Being also 



of interest as his first experience of actual warfare, it 
is given in full detail. 

On the 12th December the Commander-in-Chief, Sir 
Hugh Gough, with the Head-quarter Staff, left for 
the front. Before they started, Napier obtained the 
promise of the D.A.G., Major Patrick Grant, 1 that 
he should be summoned in the event of war. Two 
days passed without event, and Napier gave up all 
hope. “ Robert, disgusted at being left behind ” 
(wrote his wife), and with some natural bitterness, 
declared his intention of “ burning all his red coats ” 
rather than remain a soldier only in name. A few 
hours after ho had said this, late that very night, came 
Napier’s summons to Head-quarters. The rest of the 
night was spent in preparations, not only for war, but 
for the carrying on of his civil duties during his absence, 
and at daybreak the following morning, December 25, 
twenty years to a day from the date of his first com¬ 
mission, he started for the front on his gallant little 
Arab, Motee (Pearl), which carried him the distance 
between Umballa and Moodkee, 150 miles, in three 

As Napier approached the front, he was painfully 
impressed by the weary and footsore condition of the 
troops and the apparently inextricable confusion of 
troops, elephants, camels and baggage. It was about 
half-past three in the afternoon of December 18 when 
he reached Head-quarters and found the Governor- 
General, his Staff and Major Broadfoot assembled under 
a tree. Broadfoot said to one of the former, that his 
latest intelligence of the enemy informed him that 
they were aware that the discipline of the Feringhees 
was too powerful for them in the open field, but that, 
1 Afterwards Field-Marshal Sir Patrick Grant. 



man to man, they were as brave and skilful as ourselves, 
and that they intended a night attack. 

Met Colonel Haughton who kindly invited me to General 
Gilbert’s quarters. I found there General Gilbert, Captain 
Anson, A.A.G. Major Codrington, A.Q.M. I had scarcely 
taken the bridle from my horse, when Major Codrington said 
that the Sikh army were advancing to the attack ; a cloud 
of dust announced their approach, boldly executed at the 
moment when our troops were harassed from the extraordinary 
length of their march, and in apparent confusion. 

The troops on the right were nearly in the position which 
they had to take up, and were quickly formed in good order. 
Those on the left had to wheel up into line, as their camp had 
been pitched at right angles with the right, facing outwards ; 
and before they were in position, the Horse Artillery had 
galloped to the front and opened fire on the enemy, who 
advanced with infantry and guns, throwing forward on their 
right a cloud of matchlock sowars, who enveloped the left 
flank and kept up a severe fire on our troops as they came up 
and deployed into line. 

As General Gilbert moved out from the camp, I offered 
my services to him, as I belonged to his division of Umballa, 
but the A.A.G. said that this was not the time when Engineers 
were wanted, a very true remark, but not satisfactory to 
me. Remembering that I had been ordered to Headquarters, 
X at once proceeded to Major Grant, D.A.G., and reported 
myself to him. He immediately informed the Commander 
in Chief, and said that His Excellency would be happy to avail 
himself of my services. Shortly after this the C. in C. said 
that they had not taken up ground enough on the left; 
“ Someone desire them to take more ground.” And no one 
presenting himself at the moment, I advanced and the C. in C. 
gave me the order, pointing out to me the direction in which 
to go. I immediately set out, but the left wing had not 
reached its destined ground, and in riding towards it, I passed 
Captain Horsford’s battery and shortly found myself in the 
midst of a number of the enemy’s horse, who opened fire on 
me, and my gallant little horse, which had borne me so well, 


was killed. I had barely time to return to Captain Horsford’s 
battery before a dozen of the enemy’s sowars had reached my 
horse and plundered the holsters of their contents. I then 
tried to find my way on foot to the left, to deliver my orders. 
I shortly afterwards met my servant Shehab Khan, whom I 
had left behind on the road from Bussean, but who had 
followed me and had found me out. Prom him I got his tired 
mare, and ordered him to the rear out of fire. I then proceeded 
to the left, where I found the troops brought up in some con¬ 
fusion. Major Codrington was shot through the body, and I 
brought four men and sent him to the rear. I then joined Major 
Grant, D.A.G., who was trying to restore order, and assisted him 
as well as I could. We were with the 31st Regiment which, 
crowded up into a small space, had no room to deploy. 

We were much in advance and had one Sikh battery on our 
right and one in the front. The horses of the battery on the 
right were so like our own, that I could hardly believe it was 
one of the enemy’s ; but Major Grant recognised the Sikh 
saddles, and one volley from the men of the 31st laid both 
gunners and horses on the ground. At this time I saw Grant 
drop his arm ; he told me he was wounded, and his horse 
appeared also hurt. I offered him mine, but he was unable 
to stand. The order was given : “ Prepare to receive cavalry ! ” 
and the regiments were formed into square. I went and 
brought some men and saw Grant carried to the rear from his 
perilous position where he would have been trodden down. 
I then went in search of the C. in C. but could not find him, 
and seeing all attempts at doing so in the dusk and confusion 
to be useless, I watched the progress of the battle ; and join¬ 
ing the 50th Regiment I was present at the taking of a gun 
on the right of the regiment by a young officer whose name 
I do not remember. The enemy had retired and the action 
shortly afterwards ceased. 

The troops remained on the ground for a couple of hours, 
and then returned to their camp. In going into the camp, 
I met Captain Garvoch who shared with me his tent and a 
modicum of soup, and young Tritton who was on outpost 
duty, lent me his bed, on which I lay down in my clothes and 
got a few hours’ sleep, and so passed the day of my first battle. 


On *the morning of the 19th I found my way with difficulty 
to General Gilbert’s tent, and had hardly time to take some 
breakfast, when the alarm was given that the Sikh army 
was again advancing to the attack. The troops were ordered 
out; I had no horse. The poor mare could hardly move 
from the combined effects of cold, fatigue and hunger. I 
had lent her on the previous evening to carry a wounded man 
of the 80th from the field, and had only recovered her at a 
late hour in the night, and after a long search, so that she had 
had little rest. Captain Rawson kindly lent me a pony which 
was in somewhat better case than my own mare, and I was 
enabled to join the C. in C. Then ensued a scene which I 
hope never again to witness. Orders were given by the 
C. in C. ; counter orders by the Governor-General. Troops 
were told to go to their lines to cook, then to stand fast, then 
to cook, until the Sipahis, wearied, said they preferred to 
remain where they were. Fortunately the cloud of dust 
which announced the enemy approach gradually drew off, 
and it was reported that they were pressed for water and had 
retired. About 3 o’clock the men returned to the camp, and 
I was kindly invited by Colonel Garden to his tents, where I 
got some food and a piece of canvas to lie on, and pulling my 
cloak over my head, I got a good night’s rest. 

The 20th passed quietly. ... On the morning of the 21st 
we left Moodkee before daylight. The Q.M.G. had made his 
arrangements for the march, but alterations having been made 
in them at the last moment, some confusion ensued ; however, 
all got right again. We passed the field of the last battle, 
dead and wounded still lying there. . . . About 10 a.m. we 
approached the village of Feroze-shahur, where the Sikh 
army had encamped and commenced entrenchments. It was 
said their number was 60,000. Instead of a direct attack, 
the force diverged to the left, leaving the enemy about a mile 
and a half to the right. When we had arrived opposite the 
enemy’s position, the Comdr. in Chief wished to commence 
the attack, but Major Broadfoot said this force was a mere 
detachment; “ If you beat this, you will have the main 
army to beat near Ferozepoor.” In this it afterwards appeared 
he was mistaken. Major Broadfoot urged a march towards 


Ferozepoor and a junction with Littler’s force. The Comdr. 
in Chief strongly opposed delaying the attack, and said it 
would be a great disgrace to abandon our wounded, who 
were left with a Hindu guard at Moodkee. The Govr. General 
was called up and his arguments prevailed. The march was 
resumed, and we shortly received intelligence that Littler 
had moved out to meet us. In half an hour he galloped up 
to our line and was received with a cheer. Ferozepoor was 
relieved ! 

A long time was spent by the Comdr. in Chief in arranging 
his forces, far too long—it was near 4 o’clock (on Dec. 21st) 
when the advance commenced and the artillery opened fire. 
They were barely within range of the enemy, and the Comdr. 
in Chief desired me to bring up the heavy guns. I galloped off 
and conveyed the order to Brigadier Dennis and returned. 
The Comdr. in Chief then ordered the Horse Artillery and Field 
Batteries to advance nearer, which they did, and opened a 
severe fire, which was sharply answered by the enemy, whose 
round shot began to fly about quickly. The Comdr. in Chief 
rode about from point to point to watch the advance of the 
line, and in following him my horse was killed by a cannon 
shot. In my holster was a telescope which Colonel Birch had 
lent me. I took it out and got an officer of the 45th Native 
Infantry, Lt. Crossman, to put it into his for me. I joined 
his regiment on foot and advanced towards the batteries. 
The adjutant Lt. Hamilton, offered me a company, but that 
was not a situation in which I could well act, and I advanced 
on the right of the regiment towards the intrenchments. 

As wo approached the batteries, a party of the Staff rode 
past, and Saunders Abbott called out to me that there was 
a loose horse. I turned and caught him and joined the 
Comdr. in Chief’s party. We advanced into the intrench- 
ment; the troops carried everything and were steadily going 
on, when a sharp fire of musketry issued from the front. 
Some one called out: “ They are our own men,” and the 
regiment, H.M. 29th, ceased firing. At the same moment, 
Sullivan of the Dragoons, dismounted, came up and said that 
his regiment had charged into the intrenchments, and was 
nearly destroyed and principally by our own fire. This was 


a fatal error. They fell by the enemy, and should not have 
been sent into a camp, where they were of course quickly 
in disorder, and of every horse that was shot, the rider had 
no chance of escape. The Govr. General and Broadfoot rode 
forward, as they supposed, to stop the fire of our regiment 
in front (as if they would have fired outwards, or to the rear, 
had they been our own !). The mistake was quickly dis¬ 
covered. Broadfoot was killed. The Govr. General returned 
and our 29th advanced and drove out the party of Sikhs. 
I passed Broadfoot’s body just after he had been killed. 
Saunders Abbott was then with me, and stooped to search 
his pockets for papers, but found none. Abbott himself was 
previously wounded, and I received a sharp blow near the 
spine, which 1 thought was a shot through me from the faint¬ 
ness and pain I felt. My glove was covered with blood. 
However I soon recovered and went on. 

By this time it was quite dark, the troops had got into 
confusion and were ordered to retire. Of this order I was not 
aware, and finding the stream of men hastening in some dis¬ 
order to the rear, I made repeated attempts to 6top them and 
restore order, but in vain. Some said : “ If we had our 
officers we would stop.” I said : “ I am an officer, I will 
form you,” and I got something like a line formed, but some 

men called out: “ He’s going to lead us into some b-y 

battery,” and my line began to stream away from each flank, 
and then by degrees moved on to the rear in a flock. They 
followed instinctively some guns which were retiring, and I 
then thought if I could only stop the guns, the men might 
be restored to some kind of order. I passed Ellis with his 
battery, and entreated him to stop ; he said, “ Go to Geddes, 
he is in front and commands.” I then went to him and found 
that he was returning to the ground which wo had occupied 
in the morning. There was no help. Had the enemy known 
the condition of the troops and attacked them, they would 
have been slaughtered like sheep. We just then reached the 
rest of Gilbert’s division in great confusion. The men were 
ordered to lie down to avoid the shot which came over us 
every minute. Poor Abbott was again near me, and feeling 
very faint from his wounds. I was in great pain and we 


laid ourselves down on the ground faint with hunger, thirst 
and fatigue. 

We remained in this way for a considerable time, when 
we heard a rattle of musketry and a cheer. Some companies 
of the 80th had been sent by the G o vcrnor-General to retake 
the guns which were playing upon us, which they gallantly 
did. Still some heavy guns continued to thunder through the 
field from time to time, until our troops became Btill and 
there was no guide for the gunners of the enemy. Every time 
a fire was lighted, or a bugle sounded, a shot came over us. 
At length all became still. Abbott and myself were so for¬ 
tunate as to get from the 29th Regt. a ration of rum ; it tasted 
like water, but it supported us very much, and enabled me 
to think of trying to restore order to the troops. 

Several officers came up to me, particularly Captain Stepney 
of the 29th, and said: “ If we could only get Borne orders 
we could do anything. You are a staff officer, pray try and 
get us some orders.” I found Colonel Barr, 1 one of the Comdr. 
in Chief’s staff (a Queen’s officer) arranging the men, and 
spoke to him. He was forming a line, and had so arranged 
that one corps was in front of another. Had there been an 
alarm, the confusion would have been terrible. I pointed 
this out, and also that a single line was open to cavalry attack 
in flanks. As he did not know me, and I was in a strange 
dress, he replied rather sharply, “ I do not know where you 
come from, Sir.” “ Very well,” I said, and turned to go ; 
but overcoming my feelings of annoyance, I returned and 
said : “I wish to make myself useful, as it seems there is a 
great want of officers to do so.” He thanked me, and explained 
that he found the utmost difficulty in getting even a line 
formed ; if I would assist him in that, he would afterwards 
make a better disposition. This I did. I found regimental 
officers all ready to take orders, and I pointed out the positions 
to be taken up. After it was over, I laid down again weary, 

1 In Mr. Rait’s Memoir of Viscount Gough there is mention of this 
officer and of the strange untoward part he played in the actions of 
Ferozeshah and Sobraon. His personal bravery is stated to have 
been beyond dispute. He was suffering from the effect of a sun¬ 


and towards morning, I must have slept. When I awoke 
my horse was gone ! I had let go the bridle. 

During the early part of the night, Colonel B. (of the Military 
Board) asked me if I could lead the troops to Ferozepoor. 
I replied “ No ; and if I could, they could never march there 
now, and what should we do then ! ” His face looked very 
livid when he replied: “ Terms ! Entrenched Camp.” It 
was a desperate idea. Fine terms we should have got! 
Thank God, that better ideas returned. I again found poor 
Abbott. We talked of the state of affairs, and agreed that 
it would be a thousand times better to fight to the last than 
think of a retreat. If the last was tried, India would have to 
be reconquered. Abbott had behaved very gallantly, and 
notwithstanding his wounds, 1 he thought less of himself than 
of me. 

On the morning of the 22nd, I awoke after a very short 
sleep and I rose stiff from cold and the effects of my wound, 
and faint from hunger and thirst. I was joined by Saunders 
Abbott, and tried to borrow a pony from the officers of the 
29th regt. on which Abbott and myself might ride by turns. 
Captain Stepney of the 29th, who was the owner of the pony 
that I had caught, and who had, strangely enough found it 
during the time that I slept, generously offered it to me, but 
as he was then in command of his regiment, I saw that he 
could not do his duty without it, and (I) would not take it. 
I therefore went in search of another, but could not find one. 
In the meantime Abbott met the Govr. General who ordered 
him and myself to go to Ferozepoor with Tait’s horse. From 
this and what we had heard, we were fully impressed with the 
belief that the army was about to march to Ferozepoor, and 
went to Tait, who however, had received no orders to go to 
Ferozepoor, and had no spare horses. We therefore determined 
to attach ourselves to a regiment of infantry and to share its 
fortunes. We joined the small remnant of the Queen’s 31st, 
and offered our services to Colonel Spence, who could scarcely 
articulate from exhaustion. The line was formed and we lay 
down under a severe cannonade from the intrenchment which 

1 They were very severe and continued at intervals to trouble him 
to the end of his long and honoured life, which closed in 1892. 


the enemy had re-occupied, until the order for the advance 
was given. 

At length the order was given, and we advanced steadily, 
the cannonade increasing as we approached the batteries ; 
we came within charging distance, and with one cheer and one 
rush, we were beyond the guns which were ours. Many oi 
tho Sikhs stood and were slain. One man I saw completely 
run through the body with the bayonet of a European, but, 
in falling, the wounded Sikh gave his adversary a severe 
wound in the knee. A number of Sikhs were seen running off, 
and were soon lost in the dust and mist. The European 
soldiers then straggled through the camp, some plundering, 
others shooting the wounded, few of whom were spared. 1 1 
was in time to save one wretch who was lying wounded in a 
tent, and persuaded the man, whose bayonet was prepared 
for the deadly thrust, to give him instead a drink of water. 
But I could do no more, and I fear he fell a victim to some others 
who followed. 

After passing through the Sikh camp, which I did not do 
until I had spiked every gun which I found, the infantry 
were just forming, when there was a call that the Sikhs were 
coming down again in force. I had lost the 31st regt. and 
was near the 29th. I had bought from a soldier two oranges ; 
one of these I divided with Abbott, and the other I gave 
Colonel Taylor, who was wounded. 

I wished to get near the Comdr. in Chief, but was not able 
to do so, for I walked with great pain, and suddenly a fierce 
cannonado opened upon us. I joined the nearest regiment, 
and the advanced company, consisting of about 50 men, were 
placed under a small ridge covered with bushes, with orders 
to remain there to the last; if charged by cavalry, the rear 
rank to face about, and to defend themselves to extremity. 
The bayonets and caps of the soldiers were ill concealed by 
the scanty shelter, and a gun was directed on us by tho enemy, 
which played incessantly for more than an hour. The man 
was killed who was next but one to me on one side, and on 
tho other side a man very near me had his arm carried off 

1 It should bo remembered that the Sikhs had shown barbario 
cruelty towards our wounded in the two previous engagements. 


at the shoulder. Every shot came with an accuracy that 
astonished me. The men were with difficulty restrained from 
charging and taking the gun, but, unsupported as they were, 
they would have been cut off to a man. At length it became 
evident that our infantry were retiring before the storm of 
shot, and the small body with whom I was left, quite unsup¬ 
ported, were shortly afterwards withdrawn to the main body. 
The men were fainting from thirst, and beginning to waver; 
it seemed that we were on the eve of a great misfortune. The 
village which had been occupied by the enemy was before us, 
and the men began to rush towards the wells, when the can¬ 
nonade began to slacken and finally ceased. This was caused 
by a demonstration made by our cavalry 1 who were ordered 
to charge. Neither the horses nor the men were able to do 
so, but the mere demonstration caused the enemy to fear 
some attempt to cut him off from the river and he retreated 
and bivouacked about a mile from us. Our army was too 
exhausted to pursue. The artillery had no ammunition to 
reply to the cannonade under which we had suffered so much. 
Officers and men were fainting from thirst, and eagerly crowded 
at the wells near the village. 

The Governor-General came near where I was, and I sug¬ 
gested that we should immediately secure the guns which the 
enemy had left. “ It is most desirable,” he said, “ that we 
should do so, but the army is so disorganised that nothing 
can be done at present.” I tried in other quarters, but the 
thing was impossible. At about nine in the evening, I got 
some food from the Comdr. in Chief and slept in his tent 
(a large tent taken from the enemy), and we found the next 
day that we had slept upon bags of powder, quite unconscious 
that a spark would have destroyed us all. The whole of the 
party (some 17 officers) including the Comdr. in Chief, un¬ 
consciously used these dangerous pillows. His Excellency 
disliked smoking, to which we probably owed our preservation. 

Early in the morning I asked Col. Garden what was to be 
done, and he said he believed the army was to march on 

1 It was subsequently known that the movement of the cavalry to 
Ferozepore, though arising from error, had led the enemy to fear a 
flank attack, and to retire.—N apier. 


Ferozepore. This seemed to me to be ruin. We could not 
carry the guns with us. The enemy was near enough to return, 
and we should have lost the victory, cur trophies, and the 
enemy might have placed himself between us and our sick 
and wounded at Moodkee, and our supplies and baggage. 

I consulted several of the staff, and then went to the Comdr. 
in Chief and submitted my opinion, that if we moved, we lost 
the fruits of our victory ; that we could hold our present 
position, and find food in the enemy’s camp, prepare and make 
use of his artillery, and that our communication was open 
with our rear at Moodkee, and as good with Ferozepore as 
if we were actually there. He replied that he certainly agreed 
with me, that he should do all in his power to remain, but 
that if overruled by political considerations, he could not help it. 

We did remain, and I set to work immediately with as many 
Europeans as I could collect, to bring in and prepare all the 
captured guns which were not spiked first. Poor Taylor 1 
commanded the whole front of the camp opposed to the side 
where the enemy was. He assisted me with working parties, 
and we soon got a very respectable battery arranged so as to 
command the approaches to our position. A number of 
hackeries (bullock carts) offered the means of a capital barricade 
to fill up the gaps between our reduced regiments, but they 
were not required. Although our cavalry and artillery had, 
by the error of judgment of the A.A.G. Captain L., been taken 
in to Ferozepore, the infantry were encouraged by the measures 
we had taken to prepare the enemy’s guns ; and the enemy, 
on the other hand, not knowing our real weakness, and doubt¬ 
less being immediately informed of our bold front, retreated 
to Sultan Khan Walla, and thence to the bank of the Sutlej. 

Towards the evening of the 23rd, the cavalry and the 
artillery returned from Ferozepore. I found to my surprise 
that they were placed in front of our line at the North-West 
angle, and if attacked during the night by the enemy, they 
might have been driven in upon the infantry, and much con¬ 
fusion would have ensued. I warned the Commanding 

1 Colonel C. C. Taylor, C.B., had been known to Napier from 
childhood, He was severely wounded at Ferozeshah, and again, 
mortally, at Sobraon. 


Officers near there, and slept in the Mess tent of the 29th, 
in order that I might be near to give assistance if necessary, 
in case of any confusion arising. I fear I somewhat offended 
the Comdr. in Chief, for, when I told him of my intention, he 
said, “ Faith, I think I will sleep with the troops too, for if 
there is an alarm during the night, I’ll never bo able to get 
to the front amidst such confusion.” 

I said : “ If I may venture to make a suggestion, I would 
recommend the 29th regiment. You will find Colonel Taylor 
an excellent clear-headed soldier.” The Chief replied : “ I 
want tho hearts of the army, not their heads, Captain Napier.” 
I am not politician enough to make any reply. 

The night of the 23rd passed quietly, and on the 24th, the 
army marched to Sultan Khan Walla, from whence the Sikhs 
had retreated. In their haste, they left quantities of ammuni¬ 
tion. Here I recovered my tents and servants, and got a 
change of clothes for the first time since I left Umballa. I also 
got my wound dressed. On the 25th, I went to pay my respects 
to the Comdr. in Chief, who received me most kindly, and 
desired me always to remain near him, besides saying many 
flattering things which were soon forgotten. 

On the 26th Major Grant sent for me to ask my opinion 
about some mortars, which I strongly recommended as an 
addition to our artillery, and was immediately requested to 
proceed to Ferozepore, and to exert myself to bring them out 
in time for the attack of tho enemy proposed for the 29th. 
This I did, and returned on the 27th. 

News was received of the retreat across the river of the 
Sikh army. On the 31st of December, Colonel Smith, the 
Chief Engineer, arrived, and assumed chargo of the Engineer 
department. I was appointed Brigade-Major by the Comdr. 
in Chief. Little occurred that is worth relating until the 
battle of Sobraon. 

Unfortunately there is no personal record by Napier 
of this battle. The appointment of Brigade-Major was 
a special compliment to Napier, as there were two 
officers of his corps senior to him then present with 
the army. However, when the despatches of the 



battles of Moodkee and Ferozeshah appeared, his 
wound and services had been accidentally omitted. 
When the omission was repaired, Napier was thanked 
as Chief Engineer, a temporary designation only. In 
the Sobraon despatch his services were recognized by 
name. It is possible that Colonel Edward Smith of 
the Engineers was not a very cordial Chief, for Mrs. 
Napier wrote sympathetically that Napier would find 
his position much more satisfactory when his old 
friend and first Chief, Colonel Irvine, should arrive. 
The latter officer did arrive just before the battle of 
Sobraon, but, to use the words of Sir Hugh Gough’s 
despatch, “ he (Irvine) declined to assume it (the com¬ 
mand), in order that all the credit of that work which 
he (Smith) had begun, might attach to Brigadier Smith. 
For himself, Brigadier Irvine sought only the oppor¬ 
tunity of sharing our perils in the field, and he accom¬ 
panied me throughout the day.” 

At the close of the campaign, Napier returned to 
his peace duties at Umballa. He had acquitted him¬ 
self with great distinction under circumstances of 
peculiar difficulty. “ Sir Hugh Gough said he had 
seen no harder fighting even in the Peninsular War,” 
Wrote Mrs. Napier. 

So considerable had been Napier’s services, and so 
cordially appreciated in the highest quarters, that his 
friends were dissatisfied at his receiving only honourable 
mention in Despatches, and a brevet Majority. Such, 
however, was not Napier’s view. True, there had been 
a brief period between Ferozeshah and Sobraon when 
he felt disposed to consider his services undervalued. 
“ But,” as he related in after-life, “ from the time I 
stood in the entrenchment at Sobraon after the battle, 
and saw the hundreds of bodies of gallant soldiers, 


piled one above the other, men whose services could 
have no earthly reward, I felt ashamed of my passing 
discontent, and then and there resolved that come 
what might, I would make it a principle always to 
consider that I had had more rather than less than 
my due. From that resolve I think I have never 
since wavered.” And yet, when one considers care¬ 
fully the foregoing narrative, it is clear that his services 
must have been of very great value. Taking into 
account the extreme modesty of the man, one can be 
certain that he did not exaggerate his exploits. So 
we find this Captain of Engineers, aged thirty-five, 
having ridden 150 miles on one horse in less than 
three days in his eagerness to be in time, arrives at 
the scene of his first engagement, with no special 
appointment, and at once goes into battle, without 
even having time to feed his horse. Rebuffed by his 
Brigadier-General, he succeeds, thanks to his friend, 
in attaching himself to the staff of the Commander-in- 
Chief, and at once makes himself useful in conveying 
the C.-in-C.’s orders. When his horse is shot and he 
is unable to follow the C.-in-C., he saves the life of his 
friend Major Patrick Grant, attaches himself, wherever 
the fight is hottest, to whatever corps happened to be 
in his neighbourhood, and rejoins the staff of the 
C.-in-C. whenever the opportunity occurs. Another 
horse is shot under him and he himself is wounded. 
Notwithstanding this, on the following day, after 
sharing in the attack and capture of the entrenched 
camp at Ferozeshah, he is careful to spike every enemy 
gun he can find. Then, at the critical time of doubt 
and exhaustion on the sixth day of fighting, when 
victory and defeat was trembling in the balance, when 
a retreat on Ferozepore was contemplated, and the 


British cavalry and artillery had actually gone there, 
Napier, after consulting several officers of the Staff, 
and in his capacity of Chief Engineer Officer, went to 
the Commander-in-Chief, and submitted his opinion 
that to move to Eerozepore would be disastrous, 
whereas, by remaining on the spot, and making use 
of the enemy’s captured guns, the position was tenable. 
The Commander-in-Chief replies that, although agreeing 
with Napier, he might be overruled by political con¬ 
siderations. Napier had already experienced the bad 
effects of the conflicting authority of the Governor- 
General and of that of the Commander-in-Chief, and 
in this instance it threatened to be disastrous. It may 
therefore well have been owing to Napier’s intervention 
that the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief prevailed. 
However that may have been, the fact remains that 
Napier’s suggestion was adopted—a battery was formed 
of the enemy’s guns, our men were encouraged, the 
enemy held aloof, and the situation was saved. 



Civil Engineering Works—Reduction of the Fortress of Kangra— 
Siege of Mooltan—Black Mountain Expedition—Afridi Ex¬ 
pedition—Chief Engineer to the Punjab Government. 

With the close of the Sutlej campaign, Napier 
returned to Umballa, and the Governor-General, after 
concluding the Treaty of Lahore, from which resulted 
the virtual annexation of the Punjab, recrossed the 
Sutlej, and, on his way to Simla, inspected the new 
cantonments which Napier was laying out at Subathoo 
and Dugshai. 

In a letter to his wife Napier wrote on March 24, 
from Subathoo: 

I went this morning with the Governor-General to the 
suspension bridge on his way to Simla. He was so gracious 
and affable in all public matters, that I could not possibly 
intrude any private ones of my own. I believe I shall have 
the general direction of the new station. He has asked mo 
to give him my ideas on the plans for forming it, and every¬ 
thing is to be on a liberal scale. The name of the place to be 
Kooshiula from the river near it, Dugshai being not eupho¬ 
nious (!!)... I feel daily less inclined to go to Lahoro 
except as Chief Engineer. 

Evidently the new conditions of the Punjab had 
opened up prospects in Napier’s mind of engineering 
works to be accomplished there on a great scale, but 



his position at Umballa was too satisfactory to bo 
lightly abandoned. 

Meantime, early in May, 1846, he was again recalled 
to the field to serve as Chief Engineer of the force 
now preparing under Brigadier Wheeler for the reduc¬ 
tion of the mountain fortress of Kangra, a place 
popularly reported to be impregnable. The artillery 
equipment provided for the expedition Napier found 
inadequate, and from his first halt he sent two strongly 
worded applications for the addition of a battery of 
18-pounders—one to Major Henry Lawrence, who had 
been appointed the Governor-General’s Agent in the 
Punjab on the death of Major Broadfoot, and the 
other to Brigadier Wheeler. To the latter he said: 
“ There are few places where ingenuity and plenty of 
labour will not enable you to carry 18-pounders, and 
nothing else can be depended on against a wall of 
any strength.” This opinion was vehemently opposed 
by that capable officer, Lieutenant James Abbott of 
the Artillery (afterwards Lieut.-General Sir James), 
who declared it would be utterly impossible to convey 
such heavy guns to that mountain fastness. However, 
Napier’s persistency gained the day, and three 18- 
pounders were provided. Napier promised that the 
road should be practicable for the siege train (thirty- 
three guns and mortars) in seven days, and though 
only by the extraordinary exertions of all the officers 
and troops employed, he kept his word to the day. 
Brigadier Wheeler, notwithstanding his Afghan experi¬ 
ences in a very mountainous country, wrote that it 
was “ unequalled in difficulty by anything I have 
ever seen.” The route lay over rugged hills and 
mountain torrents, which had to be crossed and 
recrossed many times in a single march. At the last 


moment Napier was superseded by his Chief, Brigadier 
Smith ; the fortress capitulated on the arrival of the 
troops, and Napier, describing the incident to his 
friend Major Lugard, wrote at the time as follows: 

Your note went to Umballa, and followed me to Kangra, 
where it seems you were ignorant that I had been ordered to 
conduct the proceedings in the place of Br. Smith who was 
reported too ill to move whilst he expected (only) a hot march, 
but who recovered wonderfully as soon as he heard that there 
was a prospect of resistance and consequent rewards for suc¬ 
cessful enterprise. I quoted Irvine’s generous conduct to 
him in vain—he went about in a dhoolie (sedan chair carried 
by coolies) determined to get all he could through the labours 
of others. I underwent a degree of fatigue, which I should 
have expected to lay me (low), accompanied as it was with 
sunning above and wet legs below. In a few days I travelled 
over the course of the mountain torrent more than 100 miles, 
crossing it sometimes saddle deep. By getting assistance 
from all quarters in the Political Department, and bringing 
it to bear at the proper points, I had the satisfaction of opening 
the road so as to enable the force to make the journey in the 
time I had promised Wheeler, viz., seven days. When I 
think of what it was, I almost wonder at my own temerity, 
but I know by experience that few things are impossible if 
attacked with a determination to succeed. My labour was 
not useless, for nothing but the arrival of the 18-poundcrs 
had the effect of bringing the garrison to reason. I was glad 
that the loss of life, if even of a single man, was spared by the 
surrender, and doubly so, when I saw the number of women 
and children who were shut up in the fort. . . . The fort 
was very strongly situated—the masonry very solid and well- 
built ; the outer courses iron clamped ; the gates numerous 
and well covered, and the ascents to the breaches which we 
proposed making, by no means easy. One we must have 
worked out with sappers after subduing the defences. 

These operations are the ones in which success is the triumph 
of our profession. They give full opportunity for individual 
daring, and are certain in results, if properly conducted. 


The smallness of the garrison would have crippled theii 
defence, and I believe a few days’ firing from our mortars would 
have brought them to terms. It was at the same time quite 
necessary to have the means of making a breach. My ex¬ 
amination of the defences assured me I was right in standing 
by the 18-pounders, and will be a useful landmark for me 
on all future occasions. 

If men see that you cannot get at them, they may endure 
a destructive bombardment, but if, in addition, they see the 
road being opened for the cold steel, it has a wonderful effect 
on the nerves. 

The country is very beautiful, varying at every step, almost 
indescribable in consequence. You travel up the bed of a 
rude torrent beneath beetling cliffs—cross one or two bare 
ridges and stony rivers, frequently ascending and descending 
flights of stone steps, and then you suddenly emerge on a 
fertile tableland, glistening with clear streams and rivulets, 
and luxuriant with the most beautiful vegetation—next, 
villages, rustic mills, and all the signs of peace and plenty. 
I must not try your patience too long, but you must add to 
the scene the view of the snowy range, to give soul to the 

Although the relative positions of Brigadier Smith 
and Major Napier became “ rather awkward,” Napier’s 
sense of duty and powers of self-control brought him 
well through what might easily have become an impasse. 
Brigadier Smith subsequently reported that “ Major 
Napier combined his usual talent with unremitting 
labour in promoting the operations generally,” and 
the latter must have been very well reported on by 
Brigadier Wheeler, as, he received the thanks of 
Government for his share in this operation. 

Napier was detained at Kangra for some weeks, 
first, in making a survey of the country, and afterwards 
by fever, brought on by his recent exposure and fatigue 
in making the road. On his return to Umballa, heavy 


arrears of work awaited him, and fresh anxieties as 
to the health of his mother at home, and his wife and 
children at Umballa occupied his mind, and at the 
end of the summer he removed with his family to the 
Hill station of Kussowlie, their first sojourn in the 
Hills since leaving Darjeeling four years previously. 

By December, 1846, affairs in the Punjab had led 
to more direct control by the British, and Henry 
Lawrence was appointed Resident to control and guide 
the Council of Regency of eight Sirdars. Lawrence 
lost no time in sending for his old friend Napier to his 
assistance, as Engineer to the Durbar, and during the 
ensuing lull between the two Sikh wars Napier formed 
the outline of the extensive scheme of Public Works 
in the Punjab (never yet completely realized) which 
he gradually developed during the next ten years. 

These labours were at times interrupted by calls 
to military duties in the field, which may now be 
enumerated and briefly described. 

First came the siege of Mooltan in 1848. Mooltan, 
the capital of the district at the bifurcation of the 
Sutlej and the Indus, had been one of the latest 
conquests of the Sikhs under Runjeet Singh, and at 
the time under review was governed by his son Moolraj. 
Owing to heavy demands of payment by the Sikh 
Government, backed by British officers, Moolraj re¬ 
volted, murdered the British officers Vans Agnew and 
Anderson at Mooltan, and headed a rebellion, which 
rapidly grew into a national movement against the 
British occupation. 

Moolraj was driven back by a small force collected 
by Lieutenant Edwardes, an officer of the Revenue, 
and confined to Mooltan. A Sikh force, sent to his 
support, went over to the insurgents, and it became 


necessary to collect a British Division with a regular 
siege train at Ferozepore, and advance to the siege of 
Mooltan where the force arrived under the command 
of Major-General Whish at the beginning of September. 
Major Napier was appointed Chief Engineer, and at a 
Council of War, held on the 6th September, laid two 
proposals before the General which are recorded by 
Siddons as follows : “ First, To take the town of 

Mooltan by a coup de main at any cost in one day, 
by the whole force moving down in line, getting within 
battering distance of the walls, making a breach or 
breaches in any promising places, and storming as soon 
as practicable ; after which the attack on the fort to 
be carried on from the line of houses bordering the 
esplanade on the town side. Second. To march the 
force round to the Northward and attack the N.E. 
angle of the fort by regular approaches.” Major 
Napier strongly urged the adoption of the former plan, 
but his view was opposed by all the senior officers, 
whose opinion was decidedly against a coup de main, 
and General Whish therefore rejected the idea at 

The second plan was also rejected, chiefly on account 
of the difficulty of keeping connection with Edwardes’ 
force, but also because of an alleged scarcity of water 
on the ground north of Mooltan, which did not prove 
to be the case. 

Both Major Napier’s plans having been rejected, 
General Whish adopted that of Lieutenant Lake, the 
Engineer of Edwardes’ force, which plan proved 
impracticable owing to the extent of ground and the 
lack of troops available, in the effort to keep connection 
between the two forces. In the meantime Napier 
devoted all his energies in striving to make Lieutenant 


Lake’s scheme successful. In an encounter which 
ensued, it is recorded how “ Napier, to encourage the 
gunners (of Van Cortland’s Horse Artillery), laid and 
helped to work them (the guns) himself ” on the night 
of the 9th September, remaining with the disorganized 
division until its withdrawal. On the 12th, after 
desperate fighting on both sides, a portion of the 
suburbs was carried, and a distance gained to the front 
of some 800 or 900 yards. Unfortunately Major 
Napier was severely wounded by the graze of a cannon 
ball which disabled him for some weeks. Very little 
was done after the 12th, and on the 14th, after the 
defection of Rajah Sher Singh, who went over to the 
enemy with 10,000 men, a council was held in Major 
Napier’s tent, at which it was unanimously decided to 
suspend the siege until reinforcements arrived. At the 
end of October the enemy resumed the offensive, and 
by the beginning of November had established a 
battery which raked Edwardes’ camp. Napier, who 
had resumed active service as soon as he could ride, 
urged that the enemy should be dislodged at once at 
the point of the bayonet, but in this also he was over¬ 
ruled, and it was settled that a strong brigade under 
Brigadier Markham should make a circuit and attack 
the enemy in flank, while Edwardes made an attack 
to the front of his own camp.” The result was the 
successful action of Soorujkund on the 7th November. 
Brigadier Markham wrote: “To Major Napier, Chief 
Engineer, who accompanied me throughout the day, 
I am indebted more than I can express.” Edwardes 
said : “A mere manoeuvre of fine soldiership turned a 
large army out of a strong entrenchment, and routed 
them with the loss of five guns before they even under¬ 
stood the attack.” And Siddons recorded: “ This 


was a brilliant and timely combat, and had the good 
effect of keeping the enemy quiet till the Bombay 
Division arrived, and enabled General Whish to 
resume the siege. This event took place the 21st 

The increase of the army necessarily brought the 
Chief Engineer of the Punjab Army into the field, 
namely Colonel Cheapo. On this Edwardes remarked : 
“ Major Napier, therefore, lost the honour of directing 
the second siege, but in zeal and gallantry in its prosecu¬ 
tion, he continued . . . second to none.” The plan 
now followed by Colonel Cheape was that proposed by 
Napier nearly four months before. Colonel Cheape 
took the suburbs in one day, and arrived near the town 
wall, which in the meantime had been strengthened 
by a strong interior rampart of earth, so that it took 
several days before a practicable breach could be 
made for the assault. The addition of the Bombay 
Division now made it possible to combine with the 
attack from the town Major Napier’s second plan of 
attack on the N.E. angle of the citadel. 

On December 7 operations were resumed, and pushed 
on steadily till January 22. That night all prepara¬ 
tions were made for the storm on the morrow, and at 
daybreak the troops were in position for that purpose. 
But at 7 a.m. orders were received to cease firing, and 
before 9 o’clock the place had surrendered. 

On the conclusion of the siege, General Whish’s 
Division marched to join Lord Gough, and arrived in 
time to contribute to the victory of Gujerat on February 
21, 1849. In this decisive battle, Major Napier was 
Commanding Engineer of the Right Wing, and shared 
in Sir Walter Gilbert’s subsequent pursuit of the enemy 
to Peshawar. For his services he was again mentioned 



in despatches, and on June 7 received the Brevet of 

Next came the Black Mountain expedition under 
Colonel Mackeson. Napier joined the expedition as a 
volunteer in December, 1852, and commanded the right 
column, which he successfully led over a crest of the 
mountain at an elevation of about 9,000 feet. In 
reporting tho operations Colonel Mackeson wrote: 
“ My obligations to Colonel Napier are greater than I 
can express for the steady and skilful manner in which 
he brought his column through many difficulties of 
ground, and determined opposition by the enemy.” 

In November, 1853, Colonel Napier took part in the 
expedition under Colonel S. B. Boileau against the 
Jowaki Afridis of the Bori Valley, on which occasion 
the Chief Commissioner, Mr. John Lawrence, reported 
by his Secretary, to the Governor-General, that “ the 
success of the Expedition w r as mainly due to the 
exertions and ability of Lieut.-Colonel Napier, the Civil 
Engineer for the Punjab, and Major Edwardes.” 

On the annexation of the Punjab after Lord Gough’s 
decisive victory at Gujerat and subsequent pursuit in 
March, 1849, Colonel Napier was appointed Civil 
Engineer to the Board of Administration, and con¬ 
tinued his plans for developing the country. Between 
1846 and 1856 there were executed under his super¬ 
vision the Grand Trunk road from Lahore to Peshawar, 
as well as many thousand miles of good subsidiary roads. 
The Punjab report, summing up the work done in the 
first three years, says : “ 1,349 miles of road have been 
cleared and constructed, 853 miles are under construc¬ 
tion, 2,487 miles have been traced and 5,272 surveyed, 
all exclusive of minor cross and branch roads.” 


However, there were other works, besides roads, 
which the Punjab owes to Napier. The great Bari 
Doab Canal, about 250 miles long, by which life, was 
revived through much desolate country, was well 
advanced, the restoration of the ancient Husli Canal 
was completed, and numerous minor canals either cut 
or restored. During this period the principal towns 
were provided with public buildings, and the great salt 
mines of Pinddader Khan were penetrated by good 
galleries, and made vastly more productive. New 
cantonments were laid out, frontier defences strength¬ 
ened and intermediate posts erected. The great rivers 
were provided with boat bridges on an improved 
system, and smaller rivers and canals were permanently 
bridged. At the same time Colonel Napier represented 
to Government the necessity for a permanent bridge 
over tho Indus. 

With regard to these achievements. Lord Dalhousie 
wrote in 1854: “Such results could not have been 
obtained without the presence of abilities and exertions 
such as call for the grateful recognition of the Govern¬ 
ment.” Then, alluding to the Engineering Staff, he 
says: “To all of these officers Colonel Napier, the 
Chief Engineer, has done full justice. But, to Colonel 
Napier himself, the Govr.-General in Council is 
anxious to render the honour that is due. For several 
years the Govr.-General has been in close relations 
of business with Colonel Napier, and has seen and 
marked the deep devotion with which he has laboured 
in the discharge of the many and various duties of his 
important office. The report before Government shows 
his success in one branch only, of the great department 
with whose conduct he is charged; but it has been 
equally conspicuous in all. Whatever may be the 


credit due to those whose efforts have been directed to 
the physical improvement of the Punjab, a principal 
share of that credit is justly due to Lieut.-Colonel 
Napier, whose professional abilities, unwearied industry 
and judicious guidance have contributed so largely to 
the material result which has happily been attained.” 

In the autumn of 1856 Colonel Napier went home 
on leave. In December, 1849, he had had the great 
and overwhelming misfortune to lose his dearly beloved 

Before the birth of her first child, Mrs. Napier, at 
Darjeeling, had sent her husband some touching lines 
of poetry containing a foreboding of her approaching 
end, in the form of an ode to Death, a few lines of 
which may here be quoted: 

Monster, I’d welcome thy grim form, 

And leave this world of shower and storm, 

And care and grief and misery, 

If that blest one in whom my life, 

My soul is bound, 

With me would come to that better land, 

Where bliss is ever found. 

But I would not take him from the world, 

Where honour waits his call, 

I could not take him till unfurled, 

The banner of his praise shall roll. 

Her husband wrote: 

It was little apparent to anyone what anguish I felt at 
leaving you. Nothing but a sense of duty would make me 
do it. . . , I have just found a sheet of poetry, beautiful 
lines. How could you write such melancholy ones, my angel ? 
The thought of losing you suffocates me. May the Great God 
avert such a calamity ! I shall pray for you, on my knees, 
Annie, will I pray for you. How shall I pass the night and 


the morrow until I am by your side again I I send your 
Bible, darling. It is an omen of good. I found it on the 
table: “Oh givo thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and 
His mercy endureth for ever I ” It is a cheering text, my 
darling. Fate has it in store for you to be the happy mother 
of children, the joy of your husband. 

Mrs. Napier’s terrible presentiment was destined to 
be fulfilled more than eight years later, on the birth 
of her third son, 1 leaving to the care of his mother in 
Europe five children, three boys and two girls, to 
survive her. And in his terrible grief, Napier had 
concentrated all his powers on his work, as the best 
sedative and consolation left to him. 

1 Now, 1927, Colonel Lord Napier of Magdala, lato 10th Royal 




First Relief and Defenco of Lucknow 

When Colonel Napier proceeded home on leave in 
1856, he was the bearer of a letter from Sir Henry 
Lawrence to Colonel Sykes, a Director of the East 
India Company. 

March 29 th, 1856. 

My dear Colonel, 

Allow mo to introduce to you my friend Colonel Napier, 
Chief Engineer of the Punjab, the man to whom we are in¬ 
debted for all our public works in that quarter. He is also a 
distinguished soldier; was for months tho Chief Engineer 
during the siege of Mooltan, was virtually the Chief during 
tho siege of Kangra and has since in the Hazara and in 
the Kohat Pass gone out of his way to do excellent service 
at the head of bodies of our irregular troops. There are few 
feats of Indian warfare that surpass Mackenson’s and Napier’s 
defeat of the Hassanzais on the top of the Black Mountain 
North of Hazara in Dec. 1852. It is 10,000 or 11,000 feet 
high. Snow was all around, and yet our new levies, with two 
of Maharajah’s Golab Singh’s regiments, carried the mountain, 
bivouacked there three days, and proved to the murderers 
of our Salt Officers (Messrs. Came and Tapp) that they were 
not safe in their fastnesses. Whether in war or peace, there 
are few of your officers who have served you more faithfully. 
His health is now very bad, mainly induced by exposure anid 
incessant labour. For more than 5 years we were much 
together and I have visited his canals, his roads, his barraoke 




and his bridges, that throughout the Punjab and the Cis- 
Sutlej Territory are witnesses of his genius and his energy, 
I hope you will therefore pardon my warmth in introducing 
him to you. It is my first introduction of any public officer to 
a Director, but I feel he is a man you will appreciate and desire 
to know. 

I am also induced to do so because he has not been sufficiently 
appreciated in India. He has had the work of half a dozen 
men thrown upon his shoulders for years, and has then been 
blamed for only succeeding in doing the work of five out ol 
the said half-dozen. 

Lord Dalhousie had the highest opinion of him, and I believe 
has so still. Colonel Baker is his very intimate friend, and 
my brother admires his character, and though he has in some 
matters given him annoyance, scarcely estimates him officially 
or privately' less than I do. Indeed I don’t know the man 
who has an ill word to say of him, and of all the publio officers 
with whom I have been connected, I know no one so deservedly 
beloved by all his own subordinates. 

Believe me, my dear Colonel, 

Yours very sincerely, 

(sd.) Henry M. Lawrence. 

This letter is volunteered by me. 

It . is not known whether this letter of introduction 
was ever made use of by Colonel Napier, but he valued 
it so highly in after-years that he remarked to a 
friend that he would like it buried with him, and 
it was accordingly placed in his tomb. 

Arrived in Europe, Napier busied himself during 
this period of recruitment, in seeing everything he 
could of interest to himself, both as a soldier and an 
engineer. Thus, a letter from Messrs. Chamberlain’s 
brick and tile factory, dated December 1856, offers 
to show Colonel Napier their machines in operation, 
as they had heard that he wished to send some out 
to India. Then a letter written to his mother from 
Namur on the 10th May, 1857, describing his journey. 


mentions the harbour at Dover. “ I slept at Dover, 
and in the morning saw the beautiful harbour works 
in progress—a gigantic business which will be finished 
in a hundred years. The stones of the breakwater 
are laid in sixty feet of water by means of diving 
bells. I had a long talk with the engineer and he 
promised to show ine more on my return.” 

Napier had gone to Belgium in order to examine a 
railway on the then unexampled gradient of I in 40. 
Doubtless the Belgian fortresses also engaged his 
earnest attention. 

Before very long, however, he was on his way back 
to India, as shown by the following letter written to 
his mother on board ship on the 11th June, 1857, 
before the “ first mutterings of the storm ” of the 
Indian Mutiny had reached him: 

I think I shall like Calcutta very much, and that the climate 
will agree with me. I shall have new subjects to interest me, 
in which I shall not evoke so much feeling as I did in the 
Punjab, and I hope to pass my time more pleasantly than I 
did during my last year in India. ... I wrote a long letter 
to Lord Dalhousie from Malta explaining why I had not 
written to him, and wishing him good-bye. I daresay I shall 
receive an answer in due course. I feel a groat deal of cheer¬ 
fulness in the prospect of not returning to the Punjab, in 
working in a new field, and I am determined that my value 
shall be admitted there as well as in the Punjab. I shall 
commence with full self-possession, with a determination to 
have no self-imposed burthens by overflowing zeal, but to 
demand everything necessary to success. I hope in a year 
I may send you a letter sealed “ Excelsior ” with your own 
beautiful seal. ... I must say good-bye, dearest Mother. 
I look on this as the last part of my day’s burthen, and I look 
to pass the evening tranquilly with you. 

Such, however, was not Napier’s destiny. Before 
leaving his ship the news of the great Indian Mutiny 



had reached him, and his arrival at Calcutta must 
have nearly coincided with that of Sir James Outram, 
recalled from Persia in order to assume an important 
command, in which Napier was to bear his full share. 

Outram reached Calcutta at the end of July, and 
was at once appointed to command the two Divisions 
of the Bengal army occupying the country from 
Calcutta to Cawnpore, to which was added the task 
of Chief Commissioner of Oude, now vacant by the 
death of Sir Henry Lawrence. 

General Havelock, after two victories, had fallen 
back on July 29 to within 6 miles of Cawnpore to 
await reinforcements. By August 6th Sir James 
Outram had started to steam up the river to Dinapore, 
accompanied by Colonel Napier in the nominal capacity 
of Military Secretary in Chief of the Adjutant General’s 
Department, but practically as Chief Engineer and 
Chief of the Stall. 

The following letter from Sir Colin Campbell, 
afterwards Lord Clyde, is of interest: 

Calcutta, 18th August, 1857. 

My dear Napier, 

The letter of our friend Grant to you of yesterday’s date 
will have informed you of my being here. It will have sur¬ 
prised you, the intelligence, and indeed, I am not without 
that feeling myself, for the possibility of my return to this 
country I had never contemplated. However I was sent for 
by Lord Panmure on the afternoon of the 11th ult. and 
informed by His Lordship of intelligence having been received 
by telegraph from Trieste of the death of General Anson, of 
the mutiny of Bengal army with an invitation to accept the 
command. It was regarded as one of difficulty and under 
these circumstances could not be declined. My private means 
bad made me independent of my military income and I had 
been looking forward to freedom from active employment 
until the call was sounded above to summon me to the land 


of mysteries. I mention these private matters that you may 
not suppose that either pelf or patronage led to my return 
to India. I have not a single connection, near or remote, 
in the armies of India or in the service of the Honourable 

I am delighted to find you where you are at present, and 
most thankful for my own good fortune, and that of the Service 
in having the benefit of your assistance and that of Sir James 
Outram exactly where the abilities and sound judgment of 
both will be of the greatest value. 

The following extract from a letter, date not known, 
but probably written in September 1857, from Napier 
to his mother, gives a clear outline of the general 

(I do not) think this war can much alter my plans if I sur¬ 
vive it. I find my health very greatly improved since I have 
returned, and I think a little active employment will do mo 
much good. Under any circumstances, my dear Mother, you 
must trust in God’s providence and be satisfied that I am doing 
my duty, and that I enjoy the full confidence of all authorities 
Civil and Military. I only hope I may justify it. 

There is nothing in our very contemptible enemy which 
common sense ought not to overcome if we have anything 
like sufficient means. Our position is this. Our whole native 
army with very few exceptions has mutinied, and they have 
two centres of rebellion—Delhi and Lucknow. There they 
all concentrate. Corps and brigades scattered over the country 
have mutinied, committed ravages, and then have gone 
towards the two centres, leaving the country again quiet, 
and our civil administration resumes its place. 

At Delhi we have an army, with a few faithful natives, 
which is not able to take the fortified city. It will only hold 
the mutineers in check until we can send up reinforcements. 

At Lucknow our army has beaten the mutineers in repeated 
engagements and is, I believe, going to retire after relieving 
the besieged garrison there. It will hold our position of 
Cawnpore on the great line of communications with Delhi. 
As soon as our reinforcements arrive, we shall move up an 


army clearing the country as we pass and restoring order. 
The mutineers in two great bodies will await our arrival at 
Lucknow and Delhi, and be annihilated, or they will break 
up as we approach, and have to be followed in detachments 
and destroyed. 

By the 16th August we find Colonel Napier in his 
capacity of Staff officer issuing instructions regarding 
the active defence of the entrenched positions of 
Bhagulpore and Boglipur from on board the Kalodyne 
steaming up the river to Dinapore in company with 
Sir James Outram. Detailed directions were also 
issued by him to the Officer Commanding the Detach¬ 
ment of the 5th Fusileers at Monghyr, stress being 
laid on the necessity of instantly suppressing any 
disturbance within a moderate distance, and only 
permitting his detachment to be driven in to the fort 
when pressed by overwhelming numbers of well-armed 
men. To Brigadier Inglis commanding at Cawnpore 
he sends a request that he should telegraph to Allahabad 
for ten 8-inch mortars with platforms, 500 rounds of 
ammunition per mortar, and 30,000 lb. of gunpowder, 
to be sent as an addition to the siege train destined 
for Lucknow. 

There are not many records among Napier’s papers 
of his share in the first fighting in front of Lucknow, 
but ho was engaged in the actions of Mangalwar, 
Alumbagh and Charbagh, the entry into Lucknow 
taking place on the 25th September. 

It is well known how Sir James Outram nobly and 
disinterestedly waived his military rank in order not 
to supersede General Havelock until the capture of 
Lucknow had taken place, accompanying him in his 
Civil capacity of Chief Commissioner of Oude, and 
fighting as a volunteer with the Irregular Cavalry. 


Thus we find reports from Colonel Napier addressed 
to General Havelock as follows: 

Lucknow Residency, 

30 th Sept., 1857. 

The numerous duties that have devolved upon me since 
our arrival here prevented me from reporting to you the 
gallant conduct of H.M.’s 90th, under Colonel Campbell in 
charging a body of the enemy and two guns, in a narrow- 
road, and under a very heavy fire of grape. 

Captain Olpherts’ artillery and Captain Becher 40th N.I., 
were conspicuous in advance. I regret to say the latter was 
wounded severely. Captain Olpherts with his usual rapidity 
brought up horses and carried off both guns. 

And again, 

10 th October, 1857. 

I feel that my letter to you reporting the capture of two 
guns and defeat of a body of the enemy by H.M. 90th, which 
I led by your orders very inadequately represents the im¬ 
portance of that operation which prevented your column 
from suffering heavy loss by the flank fire which this party 
of the enemy were in a position to open. 

The narrow lane was flanked by numerous openings which 
it was necessary to clear as the regiment advanced under a very 
severe fire of grape which raked the whole length of the line, 
causing many casualties. 

Nothing could check the rapid advance of the 90th, led by 
its gallant commanders, Colonel Campbell and Lt. Colonel 
Purnell, who were well in advance of their men. Captain 
Becher and Captain Olpherts were also very conspicuous in 
the advance. Captain Becher here received the wound of 
which he has since died, 

The promptitude with which Captain Olpherts brought up 
his spare horses and carried off the guns, actually bringing 
them into the intrenchment, under all the difficulties of that 
advance, is worthy of admiration. 

I trust you will pardon my adverting a second time to the 
subject, but I feel that my original brief report does not do 
justice to the achievement and to the officers and men engaged. 


The above letters are characteristic of Napier. The 
disregard of self shown in the first despatch by the 
absence of any mention of his having taken part 
in the operation, and then, in spite of the evident 
pressure of work, the feeling that he had not done 
justice to these under his command forcing him to 
write a second despatch, mentioning that it had been 
carried out under his leadership, and going into fuller 
detail of the achievements of his detachment. 

On the 26th September Sir James Outram issued 
a General Order, on resuming command of the Force, 
and referred to the advance of the previous day on 
which General Havelock’s force had penetrated from 
the Alum Bagh to the Residency, leaving behind 
the rearguard with many wounded at the Moti Mahal. 

Accordingly we find the next account of fighting 
done by Napier subsequent to the 25th addressed to 
Sir James Outram as follows: 

Lucknow, 16lh October, 1857. 

On the 25th ult. Colonel Campbell reported to you that he, 
with a small party of the 90th, not exceeding 100 men and 
almost all the wounded, the heavy guns, and a large number 
of ammunition waggons, was in the walled passage in front 
of the Motee Munzil Palace, which position he should be 
obliged to hold for the night, aa he was invested by the enemy 
and could not advance without reinforcements. 

On the morning of the 26th a detachment of 250 men under 
command of Major Simmons 5th Fusileers, and part of the 
Ferozepur Regiment under Captain Brasyer were sent by your 
orders to reinforce Colonel Campbell under the guidance of 
Capt. Moorsom. They had judiciously occupied a house and 
garden between Colonel Campbell’s position and the Palace, 
but as they were unable to move from their position, I received 
your orders to proceed to their assistance with a further rein¬ 
forcement of 100 men of H.M.’s 78th Highlanders under Colonel 


Sisted, and two guns of Captain Olpherts’ battery and Captain 
Hardinge’s sowars. 

Captain Olpherts strongly objected to his guns being taken, 
and, on considering the reasons that he offered, I took it upon 
myself to dispense with them, merely taking spare bullocks. 
Captain Olpherts accompanied me as a volunteer. As I had 
reason to believe that I could open a communication through 
the Palace which would bring me near the position of the 
guns, Ijtook Mr. Kavanagh, an intelligent civilian acquainted 
with the locality, and examined the Palace as far as was 
practicable, and obtained sufficient knowledge of it to form 
my plan of operations. 

I then led the party by one of the side outlets of the Palace 
along the river bank to Major Simmons’ position under a 
smart fire from the enemy, by which, however, we received 
little damage. Under cover of the night all the sick and 
wounded were quietly and safely transported along the river 
bank to the intrenchment by a path impracticable for guns. 
Captain Hardinge made several journeys until every sick and 
wounded man was removed, he also took away the camels 
laden with Enfield ammunition. One of our 24-pounders 
which had been used on the previous day against the enemy, 
but the working of which had ceased, owing to the musketry 
fire which was poured upon it, was left in an exposed position. 
It was extricated in a very daring and dexterous manner by 
Captain Olpherts, aided by Captain Crump (killed) and Private 
Duffy of the Madras Fusiliers. 

At 3.0 a.m. the whole force proceeded undiscovered through 
the enemy’s posts until the leading division had reached the 
Palace, the heavy guns and waggons were safely parked in 
the garden which I had reconnoitred on the preceding day. 
The enemy were aroused too late to prevent the operation, 
but made an attack on the rearguard which was ineffective. 

I remained with Colonel Purnell to secure the position thus 
gained with trifling loss. A large body of sepoys was dis¬ 
covered in a walled garden by men of H.M. 90th, 5th Fusileers 
and 32nd, who gallantly charged in, led by Colonel Purnell 
90th, and Captain McCabe 32nd, and almost annihilated them, 
securing the garden itself as the rear of our position. Measures 



were immediately taken to open a road through the Palace 
for the guns, and by the 1st inst., every gun and waggon 
was safely lodged in the intrenchment. . . . 

The story thus modestly told by Napier in his official 
reports has fortunately been far more graphically 
described by Napier himself in a letter to his brother- 
in-law, “ Georgie,” a subaltern officer who was wounded 
in the fighting then taking place at Delhi, who, he 
says, should be promised a brevet majority. After 
congratulations on the services rendered by his relative, 
he wrote on the 9th May, 1858, about his own 
experiences as follows: 

I have been Chief of the Staff to Sir James Outram since he 
proceeded to Lucknow. We had terrible weather for our 
approach—rain in torrents in September, and no shelter— 
but scanty food. We fought the enemy at Mungal Wor 
soon after crossing the Ganges. The enemy pounded us with 
guns of position and then fled. 

We had 100 valuablo cavalry—Outram headed them and I 
with him. We followed the enemy up for seven or eight miles 
cutting into their line of retreat and taking two guns. They 
were so wet and miserable that we were cutting them down 
before they knew an enemy was near them. One Native 
officer of Cavalry was jogging on in front of us, and if Outram 
could have got his horse near enough, he would have knocked 
him off his horse with his stick. One stupid fellow would stay 
in front of me, and made me break my sword on his head. 

Our next action was at the site of our present camp, and 
we took more guns. Our third action was at the entrance 
of the Suburbs where we had a strong position to take and 
suffered considerably but drove the enemy off and took more 
guns. Thence we marched by a flank movement round the 
river side of the suburbs and city until we reached the Palace 
and entrance to the city; there our advance was delayed by 
the heavy guns and rear-guard and we had & heavy and 
increasing fire opened on us. There was a way by which we 
could have got close to the residency, had we been thoroughly 


acquainted with it, but not being so, it was determined to 
force the way through the city : by this our loss was incurred. 
Neil and many brave men fell from the fire of loop-holes and 
when we summed up our losses on the next day, they amounted 
to 550. 

Still our heavy guns were outside, with many wounded men, 
and only about 100 men of the 90th Queens. They were 
completely invested and closely besieged in a narrow lane. 
A 24-pounder, an 8-inch howitzer and 30 ammunition waggons. 
The next day about 400 men were sent to bring them away, 
and were unable to do so. I then volunteered to go and took 
100 men and some spare bullocks, and examined the part 
of the intermediate city. I found that there were two carriage 
roads—one through the enemy’s buildings over the ground 
most exposed and where we suffered so much on the day of 
our entry—and through the city. The other branched-off 
from the same road at the city gates, and led into the large 
line of palaces which we subsequently occupied, 

A third way not practicable for guns was by the water 
side between the Goomtee and the palaces, which crossed a 
deep nullah and was only practicable for camels; this also 
was under fire from across the river. 

The task was a difficult one, the destruction of the guns 
was sanctioned; I determined to try and save them—and 
to risk the bold measure of taking the guns during the night, 
along the dangerous road, and through the enemy’s positions, 
and to thrust them into one of the palace quadrangles whence 
we could cut a passage through the buildings to the intrench- 

It was a great risk, and we determined to take it, and fight 
our way step by step if necessary. 

I left a party to keep our communication open by holding 
a post in the vast Palace ; and as soon as it was dark, sent all 
the wounded by the river route, and all the camels and am¬ 
munition (Enfield) and then replaced all the wounded bullocks 
by sound ones that I had brought down. There were thirty 
guns and waggons in all, and they were completely jammed 
up in the lane. I kept the rear-guards firing to the last moment 
to deceive the enemy, and in the quiet, comparative, of the 


night, with my orce divided into advance and rear-guard of 
about 200 and 150 and flankers of 100 each, we emerged 
from our prison. We had to thread a jungly garden and get 
on the broad open road over a bridge where, in the day time, 
no one could have lived under the enemy’s fire. All was 
still except the exchanging shots of our rear-guard with the 
enemy in position—and the jangling of the guns and waggons : 
all at once the 24-pounder stuck, and there was a check, and 
visions of the approaching daylight finding us all drawn out 
on that line of danger and death flashed upon me. I rushed 
to the rear to see what could be done to get the gun on— 
it was almost impossible. A prickly hedge of jungle pressed 
hard against the gun-wheels. To ride was quite impossible 
—I left my horse and got through the waggons, and just as 
I reached the gun, it began slowly to move again. That was 
a relief. I could only get out of the jungle on one of the 
waggons, and then I mounted. 

No sooner had I done so than the heaps on which I trod 
began to cry out “ Sahib zakhma, zakhma ” (Sahib, wounded, 
wounded) ; it made my flesh creep. I tried to be as soft as 
I could until we cleared the jungle, when I got down, crept 
through the waggons to the front and led the way into the 
palaces between the enemy’s posts from which, if they had 
been prepared, we should have suffered terribly. Every 
moment I expected we should have seen the sides of our way 
lighted up, but no—not a shot was fired till we reached the 
city gate. There they flanked us from loop-holes but we had 
not far to go, the leading gun and carriages reached the avenue 
into the Palace, and were turned into the quadrangle that I 
had reconnoitred on the day previous. ... It was too late 
for the enemy to bristle up and fire into the column, the 
unwieldy train was streaming on, and soon safely parked, 
but the enemy, knowing their ground, mounted the walls of 
an outer square commanding this one, prepared to pour a 
volley into us. No sooner had our men discovered them than 
they forced a way into the square, it was a garden, and de¬ 
stroyed the whole body—some hundreds. I pointed out the 
entrance of the Palace to our exhausted troops, and said; 
“ There are your barracks, go and rest yourselves.” 


They had been all wound up for a bloody morning fight, 
and could not believe they had got in so easily. It took us 
four days to work a passage for the guns through the Palaces, 
and get the guns into the Lucknow garrison. We held those 
Palaces for near nine weeks, and have told our story in the 
despatches. On coming out to meet Sir Colin Campbell I 
was shot through the thigh, but am now well and at my duty 
again. We took all the enemy’s batteries round the besieged 
garrison and kept them at a distance till Sir Colin Campbell 
came and relieved us. 

Except from our outposts in the Palaces, where we were 
closely in contact with the city and fighting continually at 
fist-shaking distance, we lost 500 killed and wounded during 
the nine weeks—I was carried out in a doolie and the first 
sound I heard on the turf was the rapid bounding of a horse 
which told of delightful freedom on the open plain. ... I 
forgot to tell you that I had charge of a party and we took 
two guns on our way in on the 28th Sept.—desperate fighting 
in a lane—guns taken by H.M. 90th. Havelock’s despatches 
disgusting, mentioning no one. He was done up and much 
exhausted body and mind. 

The picture of Outram riding with a stick at the 
head of the irregular cavalry, accompanied by Napier 
who unwillingly was forced to break his sword on an 
enemy’s head, is characteristic of these two chivalrous 
men. Napier’s official reports of this period continu¬ 
ally refer to the daring and dexterous behaviour of 
Captain Olpherts who was known by his men as 
“ Hell Fire Jack,” and of whom it is reported that 
Napier once said, in reply to an unjust aspersion, that 
he would “ sooner have Olpherts drunk than most 
men sober,” in a difficult operation in the field. 

That the defence of Lucknow in these days was a 
very active one is shown by an official return of sorties 
made by the Lucknow garrison. They took place 
on the 25th, 26th, and 27th; two on the 29th Sep- 


tember, one on the 2nd October and one on the 1st 
and 2nd October, Colonel Napier was in command of 
the latter; 568 men were engaged, three guns were 
captured and there were thirteen casualties. 

Sir James Outram’s original plan had been to march 
back to Cawnpore as soon as the relief had been effected, 
but it soon became necessary to make a careful survey 
of the situation, and the following Memorandum in 
Colonel Napier’s handwriting well explains the situation, 
and may have assisted the General to make his decision: 

Our present prospects have to be now considered. It 
was the urgent desire of the Government that the garrison 
should be relieved, and the women and children amounting 
to upwards of 400 souls withdrawn, and that the force should 
proceed to aid in the reduction of Delhi. 

The army of the enemy has been beaten in the field without 
difficulty. The resistance in the suburbs was more obstinate, 
and, at a great sacrifice, the troops forced their way to tho 
garrison of Lucknow. The sick and wounded had been left 
with the baggage in a strong enclosure called Alum Bagh, 
five miles from the Baillie guard. In considering the heavy 
loss under which we forced our way through the enemy, 
there could be no possible hope of carrying off the wounded 
and women and children amounting to not less than a thousand 
through 5 miles of disputed suburbs. 

There remain two alternatives. Firstly, to reinforce the 
Lucknow garrison with 300 men, and, leaving everything 
behind, to retire immediately with the remains of the infantry 
upon the Alum Bagh, and retreat to Cawnpore. Secondly, 
to stand fast, using every means to economise our provisions, 
directing the Alum Bagh detachment to strengthen its position, 
which is a good one, and believing that its provisions could 
hold out until we could communicate with it. 

I could not hope that the first course would be less than 
disastrous. The rearguard, on its way in, was detained by 
the heavy guns about f mile from the Baillie guard, where 
it was invested by a circle of musketry and guns, showing that 


the enemy had closed upon our route and that every step 
would have to be re-fought. 

I therefore adopt the second course, waiting in the hope 
of making an impression on the city by active attacks on 
the insurgents, and of holding out by economising provisions 
until sufficient reinforcements arrive to relieve us. 

On the 7th October, according to the biography of 
Sir James Outram, the latter said: “ Our force is 
now besieged by the enemy who have increased in 
numbers and audacity, which leads me to think the 
Delhi mutineers must now be here. Our position is 
more untenable than that of the previous garrison, 
because we are obliged to occupy the neighbouring 
palaces outside the intrenchment, to accommodate 
the Europeans, whose positions the enemy are able to 
mine from cover of the neighbouring buildings. . . 

The following despatch by Colonel Napier gives a 
vivid description of the nature of this fighting: 

To Captain Hudson , 

D.A.A.Q. Oude Field Force, 


20th November, 1857. 

The Chief Engineer of the Oude Field Force being wounded, 
at the time of our arrival at Lucknow, and further prevented 
until the 8th ult. from personally attending to his duties, 
by an accidental lameness produced by his arduous exertions 
in constructing the bridge at Cawnpore for the passage of the 
Force across the Ganges, there devolved upon me many duties 
not pertaining to my office, which it is proper that I should 
report through you, as I believe no officer except myself is 
acquainted with all that has taken place, and the course of 
those duties gave me an opportunity of noticing the valuable 
services of officers which could not otherwise be brought to 
Major-General Havelock’s knowledge. 1 

1 General Havelock had been placed in command of the troopt 
in occupation of the ground beyond the precincts of the Residency, 


On the morning of the 27th ult. the escort with the heavy 
train occupied the range of palaces called the Chatter Menzil 
and the Furra Baksh. 

Major-General Havelock is aware that these palaces afford 
the only shelter that our troops could have occupied, and that 
as mere shelter they give excellent shelter accommodation. 
As a military position they have very great disadvantages. 
Tho Northern face is well protected by the river Goomtee, 
but the East and South-East faces are surrounded by buildings 
and in contact with tho city. 

Captain Crommelin’s plan which he will submit with his 
report of the Engineer operations, illustrates the preceding 

The position was too extensive for our force, nearly all of 
which was occupied in guarding it, but it was susceptible of 
no reduction, so that, most desirable as it was that we should 
have occupied some of the exterior buildings as flanking 
defences, we were unable to do so, but were obliged to confine 
ourselves to the palaces and gardens, and to erect precautionary 
defences against any means of annoyance the enemy could 

Lt.-Colonel Purnell of H.M. 90th Regiment being in com¬ 
mand of the rearguard on the 27th, I requested him to assume 
command of the palace garden and outbuildings adjacent to 
it. On the 28th (Oct.) the palace buildings extending in the 
direction of the Khass II a/.ar wore explored by Captain Moorsom 
who with a party of 50 men of the 90th and 5th Fusileers 
gallantly drove the enemy out at the point of the bayonet, 
killing a considerable number with the loss of one man of the 
90th. Captain Moorsom then placed a picquet in a house 
commanding the Clieena and Khass bazars. On the 3rd inst. 
the enemy sprang a mine under the garden wall which merely 
shook it without bringing it down. On the 5th they exploded 
a second mine which effected a considerable breach, and 
appeared in some force with the intention of making an assault, 
but on the head of the column shewing itself on the breach, 
a well-directed fire from H.M.’s 90th caused it to retreat 
precipitately and with considerable loss. The enemy also 
burned down one of the gateways of the garden, making a 


second practicable breach, at which they occasionally appeared 
to fire a shot or two. Lt.-Colonel Purnell had retrenched 
both these breaches which it became evident that the enemy 
had no real intention of assaulting, but they exposed the 
garden to a severe musketry fire from commanding buildings 
on the right called the Hiron Khama. It therefore became 
necessary to open trenches of communication which were 
commanded by Lt.-Colonel Purnell and his officers. On the 
6th the enemy blew up the picquet overlooking the Cheena 
and Khass bazars, causing us the loss of 3 men, and in the 
confusion that ensued penetrated in considerable numbers 
into the palace where many of them were destroyed. They 
were said to have lost 450 men, the remainder were driven 
back but continued to occupy a part of the palace buildings 
which had been in our possession. Of these the nearest to 
us is a mosque commanded by our buildings but giving several 
easy means of access to our position. 

On the 8th the enemy attacked our nearest picquets from 
the mosque, but were repulsed with loss. In order to prevent 
a repetition of this annoyance, I examined carefully in company 
with Lt.-Col. Purnell and Capt. Moorsom the buildings con¬ 
necting us with those of the enemy, and we succeeded in pene¬ 
trating to a vault under their position where, screened by the 
obscurity, we could see the enemy closely surrounding the 
entrance and hear them in considerable numbers overhead. 
A charge of two barrels of powder was lodged in the vault, 
and was fired by Lt. Russell of Engineers. The effect was 
complete, many of the enemy were blown up and the position 
greatly injured, whilst we obtained a command over the 
streets leading to the Khass and Cheena bazars better and 
more secure from molestation than our previous one. This 
post was immediately and securely barricaded by Capt. 
Crommelin who this day resumed his duties of Chief Engineer 
and the value of his services was immediately apparent though 
our position was improved bj"- this explosion, the possession 
of the mosque was absolutely necessary to our security. I 
accordingly determined to re-capture it, and on expressing 
my wishes to Lt.-Colonel Purnell, that officer himself accom¬ 
panied me with a small party of the 90th and Madras 


Fusileers, 1 The enemy, 50 or 60 in number, were surprised 
and rapidly driven out with very trifling loss on our side, and 
the position immediately barricaded and secured by Captain 
Crommelin. It has ever since formed a good connection 
between the picquets of the advanced guard and the quarters 
of Brasyer’s Sikhs. All attempts of the enemy to molest it 
have been ineffective. 

It falls within Captain Crommelin’s province to report in 
detail the various operations by which our difficult position, 
in close contact with the city occupied by a numerous and 
persevering enemy, has been defended and protected. 

I beg to bring to the notice of General Havelock the excellent 
services performed by Lt.-Colonel Purnell who has commanded 
in the advance guard and its outposts since their occupation. 
Much of the trench work by which it was rendered unassailable, 
has been executed by his men and under his superintendence 
directed by the Engineer Department. On all occasions he 
has given the cordial and able co-operation of a most brave 
and accomplished officer. . . . 

(Sd.) It. Napier, Colonel. 

Military Secretary and Chief of the A.G.’s Depart. 

Sir James Outram’s official report of the 26th 
November, 1857, says in one notable paragraph: 

1 Shortly before his death Lord Napier wrote in reply to a request 
from an old officer of the 90th for a donation towards building a 
place of worship, after apologising for not looking up his rank in 
the Army List: 

“ Dear Sir, ... it is enough that you served in the gallant 
90th, which I accompanied in the capture of the guns on the right 
flank of the advancing column under Colonel Campbell; of the 
90th that so well defended their garden that was honeycombed by 
the enemy’s bullets, and who, with a small party of 12 men under 
Colonel Purnell, assisted me, one dark night, to drive the enemy’s 
pioquet concealed in the mosque near the quarter of Brazier’s 
Sikhs. I can never forget the gallant 90th, and therefore send you 
a small contribution, very small, because there are so many living 
temples here that want building up more than the Presbyterian 
Church which in its free Christianity can convert the Moon or the 
Desert into a fitting temple.” 


I am aware of no parallel to our series of mines in modem 
warfare—21 shafts aggregating 200 ft. in depth and 3,291 ft. 
of gallery have been executed. The enemy advanced 20 mines 
against the palaces and outposts. Of these they exploded 
three which caused us loss of life, and two which did no injury, 
seven have been blown in, and out of seven others the enemy 
have been driven, and their galleries taken possession of by 
our miners, results of which the Engineer Department may 
well be proud. 

The reports and plans forwarded by Sir Henry Havelock, 
K.C.B., and now submitted to His Excellency, will explain 
how a line of gardens, courts and dwelling-houses without 
fortified enceinte, without flanking defences, and closely con¬ 
nected with the buildings of a city, has been maintained for 
8 weeks in a certain degree of security, and notwithstanding 
the close and constant musketry fire from loop-holed walls 
and windows, often within 30 yards, and from every lofty 
building within rifle range, and notwithstanding a frequent 
though desultory fire of round shot and grape from guns 
posted at various distances from 70 to 500 yards ! This result 
has been obtained by the skill and courage of the Engineer 
and Quarter-Master’s Departments, zealously aided by the 
brave officers and soldiers, who have displayed the same cool 
determination and cheerful alacrity in the toils of the trench 
and amidst the concealed dangers of the mine, that they had 
previously exhibited when forcing their way into Lucknow 
at the point of the bayonet and amidst a most murderous fire. 
But skilful and courageous as have been the engineering opera¬ 
tions, and glorious the behaviour of the troops, their success 
has been in no small degree promoted by the incessant and self- 
denying devotion of Colonel Napier, who has never been many 
hours absent by day or night from any one of the points of 
operation, whose valuable advice has ever been readily tendered 
and gratefully accepted by the executive officers ; whose 
earnestness and kindly cordiality have stimulated and en¬ 
couraged all ranks and grades amidst their harassing diffi¬ 
culties and dangerous labours. 

Thus, to recapitulate, we see that Sir James Outram 


after the temporary relief of Lucknow on the 26th 
September, 1857, had not only been unable to remove 
the garriaon with all its impedimenta, in order to 
assist at the reduction of Delhi, but found himself 
engaged in the still more harassing task of defending 
a larger area than was occupied before and against 
an enemy who had increased in numbers and audacity. 




On the 18th October, 1857, Brigadier-General Wilson, 
Commanding at Cawnpore, had, by a sharp action, 
cleared the road of rebels and despatched a convoy of 
580 men with fifty camels and two guns to the Alum 
Bagh, which was holding out as an independent post 
between Cawnpore and Lucknow, cut off from com¬ 
munication with the latter except by signal or by secret 

It now became the task of the newly appointed 
Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Colin Campbell, 
hastening from Calcutta to the seat of war, to relieve 
Sir James Outrara. A column of troops from Delhi 
which was now completely in our power, was directed 
to advance on Cawnpore under command of Sir Hope 
Grant. The Commander-in-Chief himself left Cawn¬ 
pore for Lucknow on the 9th November. No time 
was to be lost, as provisions in Lucknow were getting 
low. At the same time the mutineers from Central 
India were assuming a threatening attitude, and Sir 
James Outram, aware of this, was inform ing the 
Commander-in-Chief of his ability to hold out some 
weeks longer in order to give him time to inflict some 
chastisement in that quarter. A very heroic civilian, 
Mr. Kavanagh, who had already placed his local 




knowledge? at the disposal of Colonel Napier during 
the defence, now volunteered to convey despatches 
and plans to Sir Colin Campbell. Disguised as a 
native, he succeeded in passing through the enemy’s 
lines and delivering his important news. In the 
words of Malleson: “ The plan upon which Sir Colin 
Campbell, well instructed by Sir James Outram, and 
possessing the advantage of the presence by his side 
of Mr. Kavanagh, had determined, was to move on 
the Alum Bagh; to store within that enclosure all 
the tents, and, having drawn to himself the detach¬ 
ments still in rear, to make with a wide sweep a flank 
march to the right on the Dilkusha Park and the 
Martiniere; starting afresh from these points to 
force the canal close to its junction with the Gumtee ; 
then, covered by that river, to advance up its right 
bank on the Sikander Bagh. This point once secured, 
a portion of the force would make a dash southwards 
on the barracks north of Hazrat Ganj, and having 
seized them would erect there batteries to play on 
the outworks of the Kaiser Bagh. The main body, 
meanwhile, forcing the Shah Najif and the Moti 
M[ahal, would open out a way for a junction with 
Outram. To support this operation, Outram would 
co-operate by a heavy fire on the intermediate positions 
held by the enemy from all the guns in the Residency ; 
having forced these, he would move out with all 
his sick and wounded, women and children and treasure 
between the Gumtee and the Kaiser Bagh, and effect 
a junction with the Commander-in-Chief. It was in 
all essential points the plan which had been submitted 
by Outram to Sir Colin, and the authorship of which 
has been publicly attributed, I believe with justice, 
to Colonel Napier.” 


It is unnecessary to enter into detail with regard to 
Sir Colin Campbell's march. Suffice it to say that 
in general accordance with the above plan, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief encamped behind the Alum Bagh 
and destroyed the fort of Jelalabad on the 13th 
November. He then advanced by way of Dilkusha 
and La Martiniere which he occupied after heavy 
fighting on the 15th. Then followed the brilliant 
capture of the Sikandar (Seeundra) Bagh and the 
storming of the Shah Najaf on the 16th. On the 
same day, Sir James Outram, apprised by signal of 
the movement on Sikandar Bagh, stormed and took 
the buildings between the Chattar Manzil and the 
Mess House, and opened his batteries on the latter 
and on the Kaiser Bagh. On the following day the 
Mess House was stormed by the Commander-in- 
Chief’s force, and a juncture was effected between the 
leaders of the troops of the garrison and the relieving 
force in the Moti Mahal, where the rebels made their 
last stand. But in order to reach the most advanced 
position held by Sir Colin Campbell’s troops, namely 
the Moti Mahal, about half a mile of open ground 
intervened. According to Colonel Malleson, to quote 
his own words, “ the risk did not prevent the two 
gallant Generals Outram and Havelock with their 
staffs from crossing this space to meet the Commander- 
in-Chief. It was here that Colonel Napier, young 
Havelock and Sitwell, Aide-de-camps, and Russell of 
the Engineers were wounded.” 

Under the protection of Sir Colin Campbell’s force. 
Sir James Outram was able to withdraw from the 
Residency, and take up a position at Alum Bagh out¬ 
side the City of Lucknow from whence he could keep 
the mutineers in check until such time as Sir Colin 

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Campbell could return in force, and completely 
recapture the place. 

Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief, placing the 
women and children of the Lucknow garrison in a 
place of safety, hurried away to the defence of Cawn- 
pore which was being hard pressed by the Central 
India rebels under Tantia Topi. With a force of 
5,000 men, Sir Colin Campbell inflicted a severe defeat 
on the enemy, consisting of 14,000 regular and some 
thousands of irregular troops, who dispersed in two 

He then moved on Fatehgarh which he occupied 
after heavy fighting on the 4th January, 1858. Mean¬ 
while Sir James Outram had established himself 
securely in the Alum Bagh position. 

In this connection it is interesting to recall a letter 
written by Lord Napier to Lieut.-Colonel F. R. Innes, 
and subsequently published by The Times: 


At page 512 of the History of the Royal Munster Fusileers, 
you attribute to me an act the credit of which was due to 
Lt. George Hutchinson of the late Bengal Engineers. That 
able officer, in company with the late Col. Berkley, H.M.’s 
32nd Regiment laid out the defences of the Alum Bagh Camp, 
remarkable for its bold plan, which was so well devised that, 
with an apparently dangerous extent, it was defensible at 
every point by the small but ever ready force under Sir James 
Outram. A long interval between the camp and the outpost 
of Jelalabad which it was obligatory to hold, was defended 
by a post of support called Moir’s picquet or the two-gun 
picquet. At that time this picquet was covered by a wide 
expanse of jheel, or lake, resulting from the rainy season. 
Foreseeing the probable drying up of the water, Lieut. Hutch¬ 
inson, by a clever inspiration, marched all the transport 
elephants through and through the lake, and when the water 
disappeared, the dried clay bed, pierced into a honey-combed 


surface of circular holes, a foot in diameter and two or more 
feet deep, became a better protection against either cavalry 
or infantry than the water had been. In addition to this 
admirable forethought, we were indebted to Lt. Hutchinson 
for many acts of skill and daring during the defence of Lucknow 
and the Alum Bagh. Though he succeeded to be the Chief 
Engineer of the Alum Bagh force, being only a subaltern, 
he could obtain no brevet or C.B. During the time of the 
occurrence above described, I was recovering from a severe 
wound either in the Cawnpore Hospital or as the guest of Lord 
Clyde, and I am anxious to disclaim the credit of a clever bit 
of engineering which belongs to my old subaltern and dear 
friend, General George Hutchinson of the late Bengal Engineers. 

Yours obediently, 

Napier oe Magdala. 

Two private letters addressed to his mother at this 
period are also not without interest: 

Cawnpore, Dec . nth, 1857. 

I am now nearly recovered from my wound, which is all 
but healed and leaves me only a little lame, just for the time. 
I rode 12 miles to-day, so I need say no more regarding it. 
I believe it has healed with immense rapidity, and as it was 
only a flesh wound, it will give me no further inconvenience. 

I am still at Cawnpore, and shall be all the better of the 
rest I am getting here. The Commander-in-Chief, my old 
friend, is very kind, and has insisted on my coming to stay 
with him till he moves from here, indeed he wishes to take 
mo with him, but there is no vacant place that I could fill 
without interfering with others, and as it would not be any 
particular advantage to me, I continue in my place as Chief 
of the Staff to General Outram, whom I shall rejoin shortly 
unless called to Calcutta. . . . 

The Gazettes relating the history of our campaign by some 
accident, went down incompletely and have not yet been 
published. I fear you will not see them this mail, but when 
you do, they will satisfy you that I was not behind any Napier 
in my duty. I suppose I shall get a C.B. I look with much 


more interest on a few years of quiet with my ohildren and 
you in some pleasant country place. . . . 

We have still much to do, though the great forces in the 
field have been broken, there will be gatherings in many 
parts of the country wherever our troops are absent. It is 
difficult to see where we are to look for a native army, for we 
must have one of some kind. 

The next letter is dated 27th December, 1857: 

You will have learnt from my last that I was nearly well. 
My wound has now quite healed and I am in excellent health. 
All fighting has ceased about me, and nothing serious may be 
expected until the siege of Lucknow is commenced. . . . 

I have no doubt you will receive the despatches by this 
mail, and you will find my name honorably mentioned which 
will gratify you. General Havelock recommended me to be 
made C.B., and as Outram’s subsequent despatch mentions 
me favourably, I suppose I am at least sure of that. But 
I only think of these things as far as my friends do. . . . 

During this period of convalescence, Colonel Napier 
was not idle. Profiting by his position at Cawnpore, 
he occupied himself with the defences of that place 
as shown by a lengthy Memorandum on the subject. 
Before January 12, however, he had rejoined Outram 
at Alum Bagh in time to take part in the action of 
that day, on which a force of 30,000 rebels vainly 
endeavoured to drive the British from their fortified 
positions. He was also busy with plans for the coming 
attack on Lucknow by the Commander-in-Chief as 
may be seen by the following letters from Sir Colin 

Camp Futtyqhtjr, 

Jan. 10 th, 1858. 

I have been arrested in my upward movement, and directed 
to turn my head towards Lucknow. Your Memo, upon the 


means you thought necessary for that undertaking was for¬ 
warded by me to Calcutta. . . . 

. . . Captain Taylor leaves this Camp to-morrow for Cawn- 
pore to assist you in your work of preparation for this under¬ 
taking. I will endeavour to send you a list of the officers 
of Engineers both Royal and Bengal within reach, and the 
telegraph will bring you from Calcutta any officers of the 
Royal Engineers who may be there at this moment. . . . 

Consult with Sir James on the subject of the proposed 
attack on Lucknow. Our numbers will not admit of our sur¬ 
rounding the place entirely. I leave regiments at Euttyghur, 
Mynpoorie, Agra and Meerunque-Serai. I am asked to give 
a regiment to Etawa, and a reinforcement to Alleghur. When 
I have complied with these orders, my force will have become 
inconsiderable. I expect to hear from the Governor-General 
to-morrow or next day, when I shall be able to speak with 
more certainty than at present of what I shall be able to do. 

At this time the post of Quartermaster-General fell 
vacant, and the Commander-in-Chief offered it to 
Napier in the following terms: 

Camp Fgttyghgb, Jan. 12th, 1858. 

. . . Would it be agreeable to you to accept the appoint¬ 
ment ? But not to interfere with your position as Command¬ 
ing Engineer during the siege, or during our service in the 
Field, if you should prefer to continue in the post of Com¬ 
manding Engineer after the siege shall have terminated. In 
short, my dear friend, the post of Q.M.G. is about to become 
vacant for a time at any rate. Would you like to fill it ? 
or would it suit you ? 

Pray keep this to yourself. 

Napier’s answer is : 

17 tli January, 1858. 

Alum Bagh. 

I feel most grateful to you for your having paid me the very 
high compliment of offering me the post of Quarter-Master- 
General, and far more for the most kind way in which it is 


If I were to accept the appointment I should have to relin¬ 
quish tlvat of Chief Engineer to the Punjab or Bengal. The 
latter I believe will be my ultimate destination, for I will never 

again serve under any Government of which-is a member ; 

and I should throw myself for an indefinite period out of the 
line in which I am experienced for one which will be rather 
a pecuniary loss than otherwise. And in which I might not 
give satisfaction. 

I trust therefore you will not think me either ungrateful 
for your good opinion of which I am very proud, nor for your 
friendship which I have for years prized so highly—if I do 
not accept the post so kindly offered me. 

At the same time if I can be of service to you, I shall be most 
happy as I trust you feel assured. Sir James wishes me to 
remain here at present, but I will communicate with Taylor, 
and if he requires it, or if you wish it, pray have a line sent 
to me and I will come over immediately. 

I am collecting information of the approaches to Lucknow 
on the sides we have not tried, and hope that we shall be 
pretty well prepared. Sir James has been writing to you 
to-day. I have not seen any detailed proposals if he has made 
any, but I think we both incline to the same side of attack. 

I am much obliged to you for the memoranda. The siege 
train is stronger in shot guns and weaker in verticles than I 
judged advisable but the difference is not material, and I 
am quite prepared to accept it as it stands. I wished to have 
written more at length, but the enemy have kept us on the 
trot yesterday, and on the look-out to-day, so that I am almost 
late for the escort, but will write more at length to-morrow. 

Sir Colin Campbell replied as follows: 

Camp Futtyghur, January 20 th , 1858. 

I have this day had the pleasure to receive your Note of 
the 17th inst. When Colonel Beecher made known his inten¬ 
tion to return to England, both Mansfield and myself thought 
of you at the same moment as the fittest man in the army for 
the place about to be vacated, and in our anxiety for the 
interests of the Service, yours were not thought of by either 
of us as they should have been, and my note was despatched 


in haste. A little reflection told us that your position as Chief 
Engineer in Bengal involved duties of far higher importance 
and responsibility than those generally attaching to the 
situation of Quarter-Master-General, and that you would 
decline the charge. 

If you think it would be desirable to have more mortars 
for our undertaking, pray make application, or rather indent 
upon Allahabad for the Mortars or whatever else you may 
think likely to facilitate the reduction of the place. Be 
governed entirely by your own judgement in what you think 
necessary for our object, and apply for it at once from Allaha¬ 
bad. We shall have an abundance of artillery then. I wish 
our proportion of infantry was greater than it is. 

The siege train from Agra is to leave on the 22nd. If rain 
should not interfere to detain it on the march, it should reach 
Cawnpore about the 8th or 9th proximo. Taylor is at Cawn- 
pore and will have all your wishes attended to. 

To his mother, Napier wrote as follows : 

Camp near Lucknow, 

28 th Jan. 

I am still with Sir James Outram’s Force. Our camp is 
exceedingly strong and secure, and the enemy dare not come 
near it. We are ordered to remain in front of Lucknow until 
the Commander-in-Chief can come and complete the final 
reduction of the city. 

I had a very great honour offered me by the Comd.-in-Chief 
who offered me the Quarter-Master-Generalship of the Army. 
I am not quite sure I did right in refusing it, but the allowances 
are not better than my own, and I thought I should have a 
great deal of expense during the next two years while the 
country is getting settled, which my health might not bear, 
so, great as the honour was, I declined it. 

Sir Colin Campbell was kind enough to say that he thought 
me the fittest man in the Army for the appointment, and 
seemed disappointed that I declined. This is “ entre nous 
pray remember, and not to be mentioned. ... You will 
see that the Commander-in-Chief mentions me in company 
with General Havelock, and the Governor-General notices 


me particularly. All this will, I know, gratify you, dear 
Mother. . . . 

It need hardly be mentioned that Napier’s con¬ 
sideration of the financial side of the question was 
entirely out of regard for his mother to whom he 
was constantly sending large remittances for the 
support of herself, his children and even nephews 
and nieces. 

It would appear from the following Memorandum 
written by Napier on the 30th January, and from 
the Commander-in-Chiefs letter of the 29th January 
(which Napier must have received subsequently, as 
the post took three days between Puttyghur and Alum 
Bagh), that Sir James Outram was inclined to favour 
the direct advance on Lucknow, coupled with a 
turning movement to the west of the City, and was 
becoming impatient of delay. 

Having attentively considered a project for attacking the 
enemy’s position in front of the British Camp at Alum Bagh, 
and in advance of, and also in rear of the canal, I respectfully 
submit my opinion that as matters stand at present, the attack 
may more advantageously take place when the Commander- 
in-Chief’s Force is prepared to advance again against the city 
than now, for the following reasons : 

1. We may succeed in capturing the enemy’s guns with 
comparatively small loss, but we shall hardly withdraw from 
their position, particularly from that on the opposite side 
of the canal, without suffering; and should our loss be con¬ 
siderable, or our success incomplete, we should take some of 
the dash out of our men before the real advance began. 

2. There is a certain disadvantage in having to retire from 
a position in front even of a beaten enemy, to which we must add 
that of having probably to recapture part of the position 
when we advance agauist the Kaiser Bagh. 

3. If the enemy prepares to make a strong defence in his 
advanced position. when the Commander-in-Chief advances, 


retains his guns there, and brings a larger force than he has 
at present, our attack will also have the advantage of a simul¬ 
taneous one on our real line of attack which will turn the 
enemy’s position, and we may retain such parts of the position 
which we gain as may suit us, which we cannot do if we attack 

(Sd.) R. Napier. 

30. 1. 58. Camp Alum Bagh. 

Letter from Sir Colin Campbell to Colonel 

Camp Ftjttychttr, Jan. 29th, 1858. 


... Sir James Outram sent me a Memo, from his Engineer 
officer Lt. Hutchinson in which he suggests the Moosa Bagh 
on the Westward of the City as the best line of approach 
and attack. Not having heard from you, I replied to his 
letter containing these suggestions the same day, I enclose 
an extract of my letter to the General. I think you will concur 
with me in the opinion that every effort should be employed 
to render unnecessary, if possible, the committing the troops 
in street fighting. 

I hopo to get away from this in a few days, and to reach 
Cawnpore before the arrival of the siege train. It was to be 
at Bewar to-day and I think may be looked for at Cawnpore 
by the 6th or 6th prox. . . . 

We shall have plenty of heavy artillery and a sufficient 
number of men. I have ordered another Reserve Company 
of Royal Artillery from Calcutta which had recently reached 
that place from England. They will be at Allahabad about 
the 2nd or 3rd pros., and will be immediately pushed on to 

I look forward with no ordinary interest and pleasure to 
seeing you soon. . . . 

I tell you very privately that I do not get any reports from 
your camp. We have a report here that a strong Work has 
been thrown up about a kos (2 miles) to the West of the City, 
and another that the stone bridge over the Goomtee has been 


destroyed. Will you kindly let me (know) whatever changes 
take place in the Defences of the enemy. 

Napier’s answer to Sir Colin is as follows: 

I had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 29th 
yesterday. I had never seen nor heard of Hutchinson’s 
Memorandum and on my questioning him about it, he said 
that it was descriptive merely, and not intended to advocate 
that line in preference to any other. What we want is space 
where wo can use and make our artillery felt. 

I will send you to-morrow an outline of my plan of attack : 
I do not like to send it to-day as it is only the letter d&k. 
We have got some valuable information regarding the ground 
this evening which is being worked out on paper. 

May we hope to have any aid from Frank’s column with 
5,000 of Jung JBahadoor’s Goorkhas, or are they all wanted 
to guard the North-West frontier ? or unable to make their 
way through Oude 1 If afraid to trust themselves across the 
Goomtee, they might march up our side, and then be put 
across and employed to occupy the Badshah Bagh. As far 
as I understand from your letter to Sir James some days back, 
there was not much chance of their coming. 

Sir James had spoken casually about his ideas of attack, 
but I never saw his letter until some days after he had sent 
it to you, when I asked to see it. The East side is undoubtedly 
that most manageable, and of which we know most. It is 
therefore our best line. 

It is reported that you are at Cawnpore, but your letters 
to Taylor and myself do not say so. I am preparing to ride 
in to meet you unless I hear anything from you to the contrary. 

I have answered Inglis about the intrenchment at Cawnpore. 

I have omitted to tell you that the enemy are reported not 
to have done anything to the Stone Bridge, and have knocked 
down the whole of our Residency position, intrenchments 
and all (which I doubt) and the gardens where you entered 
our palaces. 

I hear nothing of the new works on the West side. The 
outworks in front of our camp have been for some days sus¬ 
pended, their guns much more silent. To-day an attack was 


threatened which kept us on the alert, but it came to nothing 
■—a Sirdar riding along was knocked over by a charge of 
shrapnel which put them out. 

The Return reached me safely ; it is more than I expected 
from Taylor’s account. I am very glad to hear of any addi¬ 
tional artillery, the 68-pounder will be very effective. 

2nd Feby., 1858. 

The following letter from Napier to Sir Colin is 
conclusive evidence, if more were needed, that the 
plan of the final attack on Lucknow by Sir Colin 
Campbell was devised by Colonel Napier. 

I am afraid you will be disappointed at not receiving the 
project but our people have been bringing a considerable 
amount of intelligence to fill up our plans which have tempted 
me to enter into details. I may however briefly state that 
notwithstanding the enemy has made a good many defences 
and has thrown a ditch and rampart round the North side 
of the Kaiser Bagh and has endeavoured to cut away all the 
passages across the canal, 1 do not apprehend any great difficulty. 

I would propose to encamp the force sufficiently far behind 
the Dilkoosha to be out of fire ; to establish a bridge over 
the Goomtee to pass over artillery and cavalry to cut off 
the enemy’s supplies, and to deter them from bringing out 
guns on the North side of the river to annoy us. 

To cross the canal in the first instance at Bank’s house under 
cover of our artillery—and to place guns in position to bear 
on the mass of buildings which flank the European Infantry 
barracks—the Hospital—the Begum’s house and the Huzrat 
Gunge—the places which rendered the European barracks so 
barely tenable—and to take that mass of buildings with the 

This position takes in flank all the defences of the North 
side of the Kaiser Bagh—and from them we may gradually 
penetrate to the Kaiser Bagh with the aid of the sapper and 
gunpowder, at the same time that we will occupy your old 
ground between the Kaiser Bagh and the Goomtee to have 
positions for our artillery of all kinds to play on the Kaiser 
Bagh and its surrounding buildings. 


We shall, during this time, be steadily penetrating through 
the buildings on the left of the European barracks, making 
irresistible progress until we reach the Kaiser Bagh. Until 
wo reach that place we shall have as little street fighting as 
possible, and I hardly expect they will await our assault. 
But if they should do so, and defend the remainder of the city, 
wo must advance under cover of our mortars until we occupy 
the bridges, which will certainly clear us of the remainder, 
or they will starve. 

Jelalabad will be our depot, and when we have got the 
enemy’s guns driven off, we may bring our Posts up to the 

I should have chosen your old passage across the canal, but 
the enemy have cut a new one across the neck of a loop, and 
have put guns behind it; so that as far as the intelligence 
guides us, Bank’s will be easier. 

It would make us very much easier if the Azim Ghur column 
were on the North side of the river, as we could not, I fear, 
afford to detach any of our infantry after allowing for our 
Guards and Communications. 

I had intended to ride over to Cawnpore this evening, but 
am not quite ready. Probably I shall find that the post 
to-morrow will bring me some news of you, and if I find that 
I shall be in time, I will ride in to meet you. 

I send two depositions of intelligence regarding the enemy’s 
defences. It is reported that they are leaving in considerable 
numbers and dispirited, but I do not put much faith in these 

I hope all the available coolies and Muzbi Sappers are coming 
down that you mentioned in your former letter. They will 
save the soldiers’ labour. 

On the 7th March, 1858, before Lucknow, there 
were seven Infantry Brigades of three regiments 
each, making twenty-one regiments in all, of which 
five were Native and sixteen British. The total 
effective strength of the Infantry, exclusive of officers, 
was at that time 16,525. 

The fighting that ensued between the 4th and 17th 


of March has been well and frequently described, 
and need not be outlined here. Brigadier Napier’s 
report on the Engineer Operations of the Siege 1 shows 
that it was he who selected the line of attack, directed 
the bridging of the Goomtee River in two places, and 
it would seem, from his detailed description, that 
he himself chose the sites for the principal besieging 
batteries. He is careful, as ever, to do full justice 
to the officers and men under his command, and 
includes among them two officers of the Royal Navy 
—a Naval Brigade was attached to the Artillery— 
and the Brigadiers commanding the Siege Artillery, 
and two other officers of Royal and Bengal Artillery, 
whom he commends to the notice of the Commander- 
in-Chief. The final paragraph of his report runs as 

I cannot conclude this report without remarking that in 
nine days’ operations the enemy have been completely driven 
from a series of strongly defended positions extending over 
7 miles of city and suburbs ; and though they had prepared 
for the most desperate resistance, their opposition was crushed 
by the irresistible power of artillery directed against them 
from quarters for which they were not prepared. 

Doubtless Napier’s intimate knowledge of the terrain 
necessitated his taking command of the besieging 
artillery, and contributed very greatly to the success 
of the operation. 

No sooner was the siege completed and the City 
of Lucknow in our hands, than Brigadier Napier was 
deeply engaged in a scheme for its occupation and 
defence. The first record on the subject is contained 
in a letter addressed to General Mansfield, Chief of 
the Staff, as follows: 

1 Vide Appendix A. 


Camp Headquarters, 19 th March , 1858. 

It appears to be highly desirable that no terms should be 
granted to the citizens of Lucknow on their re-occupation 
of the City, which will interfere with the measures that are 
necessary for complete military control of it. 

To effect such control, very extensive clearances of buildings, 
and the opening of wide streets, particularly from North to 
South from the two bridges to the open country, and from 
East to West, will be absolutely necessary. 

All the large premises of rebel nobles which are liable to 
confiscation, and which will, by their removal, improve the 
city by affording open spaces, should be reserved for that end. 

In fact it should be clearly provided that the citizens shall 
have no claim on Government hereafter for compensation 
for such demolitions and clearances as may be necessary to 
place the city under complete military control, and police 

I therefore respectfully recommend that any re-occupation 
of the city by its inhabitants may be entirely subordinate to 
the measures above advocated. 

Brigadier Napier next proceeded to draw up a 
“ Memorandum on the Military Occupation of Luck¬ 
now,” dated 26th March, 1858, the City having fallen 
on the 21st. The letter forwarding the Memorandum 
to the Chief Commissioner is sufficiently interesting 
to reproduce : 

I have the honor to transmit for the information of the Chief 
Commissioner the Memo, which I have submitted to H.E. 
the C. in C. on the arrangements recommended for the Military 
Occupation of Lucknow, and I trust they will meet with the 
approval and support of the Chief Commissioner. 

He is aware that they are based on long experience in the 
military occupation of newly subdued countries, and I can 
safely say that I have recommended nothing which does not 
appear to me absolutely necessary. He will remember the 
perseverance with which 1 advocated strict observance of the 
measures dictated by military principles in the Punjab, and 


will have observed how far they have proved valuable to the 
Government in the recent period of trial. I can recall few 
instances in which military precautions have not, sooner or 
later been found valuable, and a neglect of them productive 
of serious evil. 

The clearance in the City will of course produce much 
dissatisfaction. The citizens have witnessed the loss we have 
sustained in forcing even the more open part of their city, 
and have seen us carefully avoid entangling ourselves in their 
“ citadel,” the densely crowded mass of houses forming the 
west of it; they will reluctantly see it opened to the free march 
of our troops. It is probable that they may find advocates 
among those who have not personally witnessed the evils 
which the measures I have recommended are calculated to 
remove, or who, at a safe distance from the scene, think only 
of the hardships inflicted on the citizens, now professing to 
be loyal subjects, but it must be remembered that there were 
no loyal subjects when our little garrison was beleaguered in 
the Residency ; no information, no message of sympathy 
was sent to them, although, as Genera] Inglis and others were 
able to send messages out, it is impossible to believe that an 
earnest friend from without could have been unable to send a 
message inside. 

As many of our measures as may have the air of punishment 
and severity will be a salutary lesson to the influential inhabit¬ 
ants of other towns, whilst in reality they will confer future 
benefits on Lucknow which could only be practicable in a 
Revolution, and for which the opportunity, if now lost, will 
not again bo available. 

Sir James Outram on the 2nd April wrote to Napier: 

I cannot leave Lucknow without once more thanking you 
for all your kindnesses to myself and the many services you 
have rendered me. Indelibly engraved on my heart are those 
traits of the brave soldier, the able and scientific officer, the 
upright man, and the warm friend which every day of our 
long and intimate intercourse furnished. And I shall look 
back on our co-association in the service of our country, not 
only with pleasure and affeotionate gratitude, but with pride. 


God bless you, my dear Napier, and believe that I am 
and ever will remain, 

Your grateful, admiring and affectionate friend. 

Such were the terms on which Napier parted from 
his Chief—worthily known to posterity as the “ Bayard 
of India, sans peur et sans reproche.” 

It is interesting to learn from further correspondence 
of Napier to the Commander-in-Chief some two 
months later, that the Government sanctioned the 
proposals for the military occupation of Lucknow 
consisting of fortified posts, esplanades, the clearance 
of the North suburb, the three broad military roads 
and a gun road round the suburbs. The works were 
subsequently carried out by Colonel Crommelin. 

On the 10th of November, 1858, Napier writes as 

My dear Sir Colin, 

Though I much wished to do so, I did not feel sure that 
I might congratulate the Commander-in-Chief on being made 
Lord Clyde, but I may write to my old friend Sir Colin on this 
anniversary of our relief from Lucknow. I think this may reach 
you about the 17th, the day on which your work was accom¬ 
plished. I trust I shall never during my life cease to feel the 
deepest gratitude to God first, and next to you, for the deliver¬ 
ance of the whole party. It is possible that those who thought 
only for themselves, might not feel so deeply, but as I felt 
myself responsible in my share, next to Sir James Outram, 
and saw with pain, day by day, one brave man after another 
struck down, and succeeded at his post by still another, as 
cheerfully as if no one had been scathed before them, the 
sense of relief was greater than I can describe, when I heard 
the elastic bound of horses’ footsteps at Dilkoosha, and felt 
sure that it was a sound of freedom. 

In dragging together the detachments of our force, I had a 
lesson that taught me what your task was in collecting yours 
for the expedition of our relief; and still more when I saw 


the state of Cawnpore I could appreciate what firmness was 
requisite to carry the burthen on your shoulders then. I 
hope our country will never forget what it owes to you. I 
shall certainly not, as long as I live. 

I must not occupy your time longer, as you have plenty 
of claims on it; but I could not let this Boason pass without 
writing to you, and wishing you many more returns of the 
anniversary, and a long long lease of England’s favour and 

May the best success attend your present operations, and 
pray believe me, my dear Lord Clyde, 

Yours very sincerely. 




Napier was now a marked man, and hardly had he 
completed the plans for improving the defensive 
capabilities of Lucknow, when the following instruc¬ 
tions were issued by the Secretary to the Government 
of India, Military Department, at Allahabad on the 
5th June, 1858 : 

Colonel Napier will proceed with the utmost expedition to 
assume the command of the Troops marching upon Gwalior. 
He will have the rank of Brigadier-General. These troops 
are advancing in two bodies from Culpeo and will, it is hoped, 
be joined by a Brigade detached from General Roberts, late 
Rajputana Field Force, from the side of Sipree. 

Colonel Napier will learn the latest details of their movements 
as he passes through Culpee. The object which he has before 
him is to recover Gwalior from the mutinous troops of Sindia, 
who by the last accounts are in possession of the City and Fort. 

He will bear in mind that the interests of the British Govern¬ 
ment and of the Maharajah are in every respect identical. 

It is most important that a blow should be struck speedily 
and before the mutineers are able to establish themselves in 
the Fort in strength and to collect supplies which may enable 
them to make a protracted resistance. . . . 

Brigadier Napier will find the Governor-General’s Agent Sir 
R. Hamilton, and the Political Agent of Gwalior, Major Mac- 
pherson, attached to the Force which is moving forward. . . . 

The Divisional Staff of Sir Hugh Rose has received orders 
from the Commander-in-Chief to remain with the Force. 



Previous to this date, and after a series of brilliant 
actions in Central India, Sir Hugh Rose had invested 
the fortified city of Jhansi on the 22nd March, 1858. 
While the siege was in progress, Tantia Topi with 
22,000 men and twenty-eight guns endeavoured to raise 
the siege by attacking Sir Hugh Rose, only to be 
severely defeated by the latter on the 1st April. By 
the 3rd April the city was captured by storm, and Tantia 
Topi fled, followed by the Ranee of Jhansi to Culpee. 

Sir Hugh Rose was then occupied for three weeks in 
re-establishing order, and replenishing his supplies for 
a fresh campaign. 

On May 15 ho advanced on Culpee, a fort built on 
a nearly precipitous rock on the southern bank of the 
Jumna. By the 23rd, just as the British were about 
to assault it, it was discovered that the enemy had 
fled. A pursuit at once ensued ; all the guns, ammuni¬ 
tion and stores were captured, and great numbers of 
the enemy were killed. 

Sir Hugh Rose was now seriously incapacitated by 
illness and resigned his command in order to take sick 
leave, which resulted in Napier’s appointment to the 
command, as above stated. But no sooner did Sir 
Hugh hear of the capture of Gwalior by the mutineers 
led by the Ranee of Jhansi and Tantia Topi, who 
defeated Sindia at Morar, and occupied the fortress of 
Gwalior on the 1st June, than, without reference to 
the Commander-in-Chief, he resumed his command and 
marched on Gwalior. 

Napier joined him shortly before the Force reached 
Morar, and at once assumed command of the 2nd 
Brigade, and took part in the action of Morar, for 
which he was specially mentioned. 

The greater part of the 2nd Brigade then having 



just arrived, Sir Hugh, leaving Napier at Morar, 
advanced the same day against the city of Gwalior, 
and by the close of the day, the 10th June, he had 
regained the whole of Gwalior excepting the powerful 
rocky fortress, which was taken by surprise during the 
early hours of the following morning. 

Sir Hugh Rose at once ordered General Napier to 
take up the pursuit, and the following is the official 
report of the affair: 

Camp, Jowea Alipore, 

23 rd June, 1858. 

From, Brigadier-General Napier, C.B., Going, 2nd Brigade 
C.I.F.F., to the Assistant Adjutant-General, C.I.F.F. 

I have to report that 1 received at 5| a.m. on the 20th June 
orders to pursue the enemy with the detail shewn in the margin, 

which marched within 
an hour and a half after 
the receipt of the order. 
The Fort which had 
been reported in our 
possession opened fire 
upon us as we came 
within range, and ob¬ 
liged us to make a 

detour to reach the Residency. 


of nil 

Rank and 

1st Troop H.A. 



14th L. Dragoons 



3rd L. Cavalry 



Hyderabad Cavalry 



Meade’s Horse 



Total, All Ranks 



We arrived late in the evening at Lanowlee, having marched 
about 25 miles. The enemy were reported to have 12,000 
men and 22 guns, and to have marched from Lanowlee to 
Jowra Alipore in the forenoon. 

We were too tired to go beyond Lanowlee, the heat of the 
sun having been terrific, so we rested till 4.0 a.m, of the 22nd, 
and then advanced on Jowra Alipore where we found the enemy 
strongly posted with their right resting on Alipore, guns and 
infantry in the centre, and cavalry on both flanks. 

A rising ground hid our approach, and enabled me to recon¬ 
noitre their position in security from a distance of 1,200 yards. 
They opened several guns on the reconnoitring party, dis¬ 
closing the position of their artillery which I had not previously 


been able to discover. The ground was open to the enemy’s 
left, and a careful reconnaissance with the telescope left me 
assured that there was nothing to check the advance of my 
artillery. Our column of march was the most convenient 
formation for attack; Abbott’s Hyderabad Cavalry in ad¬ 
vance. Lightfoot’s troop of Horse Artillery supported by 
Captain Prettyman’s troop of 14th Dragoons and two troops 
3rd Light Cavalry under Lieut. Dick, with a detachment of 
Meade’s Horse under Lt. Burlton in reserve. 

When the troops came into view of the enemy after turning 
the shoulder of the rising ground, the whole were advanced 
at the gallop, and as soon as the artillery had reached the 
flank of the enemy’s position, the line was formed to the 
left, and the guns opened on the enemy at a distance of 700 
yards, and after a few rounds put them to flight. The whole 
of my cavalry charged, and drove the enemy before them for 
about six miles, dispersing them in every direction; and 
whenever there was a body of the enemy collected in front, 
Lightfoot’s guns were always at hand to play upon them and 
disperse them. No rout could have been more complete. 

25 guns were taken from the enemy on the plain, and 
they themselves dispersed over the country throwing away 
their arms. 

As our men and horses were completely exhausted, I was 
obliged to abandon the pursuit, and return to camp. 

It is with great pleasure that I bring to your notice the 
excellent conduct of the troops of all arms under my command. 
Nothing could excel their cheerful endurance of the fatigue 
and the intense heat of the march. Their good discipline has 
been only equalled by the courage with which they charged 
such a superior force of the enemy. Many occasions arose 
when it was necessary for detached parties to act against the 
enemy’s infantry, and they were invariably met with the 
promptest gallantry. . . . 

Thereafter follow rough notes of particular instances 
of officers’ and men’s gallantry, and recommendations 
for rewards, too numerous to reproduce. 

Besides the guns, a considerable quantity of ammuni- 


tion, an elephant, tents, carts and baggage fell into 
the hands of the British. 

Before the Mutiny Napier’s experience in Indian 
warfare had been great and varied. Since then he had 
passed with conspicuous success through the trying 
period of Lucknow. Napier was an engineer, and it 
was only to be expected that he would excel in that 
kind of warfare. But in the present instance, although 
freshly joined from a war of, as far as he was concerned, 
chiefly sapping and mining combined with artillery 
work, that he should display in an eminent degree the 
qualities of a born cavalry leader must have been a 
surprise to many people. Although the force was but 
a small one—he could doubtless have taken more 
troops had he wished, and could also have encumbered 
himself with infantry—no cavalry officer could have 
better disposed of it. The fact of waiting a whole day 
to recruit the tired horses at a sufficient distance from 
the enemy to preclude his taking the alarm, and then 
surprising the enemy when his own forces were fresh 
enough to operate with full effect, shows that success 
was the result of careful calculation. That the surprise 
was so complete was perhaps a piece of good fortune, 
but it was based on sound reasoning and a knowledge 
of his enemy, and was carried out with great dash and 
courage. The following letter addressed to his mother 
is of interest: 

Gwalior, 9th July, 1858. 

Just as I was on the point of going to Calcutta, I received 
an order to command a Force going to recover the Kingdom 
of Gwalior, which had been revolutionised by the rebels, and 
the King driven a fugitive from his throne. The General 
who commanded had been sick and was going away. However 
his health rallied and he retained the command, but the Gover¬ 
nor-General still wished me to go, as I was to succeed him 


eventually. So I started off at very short notice, and joined 
his army, and was fortunate enough to be successful. 

You will see accounts in the papers I dare say. I had only 
600 cavalry and six guns, and I defeated the rebel army and 
captured 25 guns ; so I have a temporary celebrity, and now am 
Brigadier-General Commanding the Central India Field Force. 

I am sure your pride will be gratified at this, but I look only 
to getting the country restored to peace, and being able to 
get home again. If they make me a Major-General, which is 
probable, it will, if I am spared to the end, enable me to return 
sooner than I should otherwise be able to do. Now, my dearest 
Mother, you must not be anxious. Generals are hardly ever 
killed, and our campaigning is over for the present. I am 
nursing my tired troops in quarters and getting them under 
shelter. . . . All my brother Engineers are delighted at my 
success, and my only fear is that I may not realise the ex¬ 
travagant expectations which they have formed of me. 

About this time Napier received his promotion to 
K.C.B., which brought him a congratulatory letter 
from General Sir Patrick Grant, saying: “I cannot 
tell you the prido I had in hearing from all quarters 
that, amongst the whole of the Generals employed, 
there was no one to be compared to Napier of the 
Bengal Engineers. I well knew it would be so, and 
that opportunity was all you wanted to place yourself 
at the top of the tree.” 

Letters from Sir William Mansfield, Chief of the 
Staff, Army Head-quarters (afterwards Lord Sand¬ 
hurst), show that Sir Colin Campbell gave Napier a 
free hand in his command, and any requisitions which 
he made at Head-quarters were promptly carried out* 
Napier’s demands included camels, irregular cavalry 
and small mortars. 

Central India consists of an elevated plateau, between 
1,500 and 2,000 feet above sea-level, broken up with 
many small rivers, tributaries of the Chambal, and 


rocky glens covered in many parts with dense jungle, 
the home of the tiger, the leopard and the bear. 

It is inhabited by indigenous tribes in the denser 
jungles, and is dotted with the feudal forts of semi¬ 
independent Rajput Chiefs who owe a more or less 
nominal allegiance to one or other of the great Rajahs 
of the country such as Gwalior and Indore. The 
intricate nature of the country enabled these Hindu 
Rajputs to maintain their independence against the 
great Mahomedan invasions of India. It was there¬ 
fore a matter of prime importance for the British 
Government to stamp out the smouldering sparks of 
the Mutiny in these parts. The main road from 
Bombay northwards, passing through Indore and 
Gwalior, intersects the country, the densest jungles 
being to the west of the high road between the latitude 
of Goona and Sipri. There are no other metalled 
roads, or indeed anything but village tracks. Conse¬ 
quently mortars carried on mules were necessary to 
reduce the forts, and walled villages, and camels were 
requisitioned to transport infantry rapidly from place 
to place. This campaign was probably the first in 
which British infantry were so employed. 

To resume the story of Tantia Topi. After his 
flight from the field of Jaora Alipur on the 22nd June, 
he attempted to march on Jaipur and Rajputana, but 
was repulsed by Brigadier Showers and General 
Roberts. The rainy season had now commenced, and 
neither troops nor rebels could do much, but by August 
actions were fought near Neemuch and Udaipur, 
Tantia gradually moving round in a circle from North 
to West and South of Central India, where he attempted 
to reach Indore. Driven off from that direction by 
General Michel commanding the troops in Malwa, 


Tantia then made for the Sironje district where he 
again approached the region of the Central India Field 
Force. Meanwhile, Napier, having wisely profited by 
the rainy season to secure a measure of rest and comfort 
to his overworked soldiers, had put them into quarters 
at Gwalior, Jhansi, Goona and Sipri, the latter place 
being occupied by Brigadier Smith. But he was not 
to rest for long. A letter from him to General Mans¬ 
field, dated 30th July, mentions that two Rajput Chiefs, 
Ajit Singh and Man Singh, rebels against our ally 
Scindia, were becoming active. They had seized the 
fort of Powri, North-west of Sipri, with 12,000 men. 
Smith with 1,100 men advanced to attack, but Powri, 
being a strong fortress and Smith’s artillery insufficient, 
the latter applied to Napier for assistance. Napier, 
feeling that it was essential to crush such an insurrection 
without delay, came to his assistance with five guns 
and four mortars escorted by 600 cavalry, and reached 
Powri on the 19th August. After a 24-hour bombard¬ 
ment by high angle fire, Napier commenced with his 
breaching batteries, and Powri was evacuated on the 
night of the 23rd. The fortress was razed to the 
ground, the guns were burst, and Napier returned to 
Sipri, leaving the pursuit to Brigadier Smith’s force. 
A party under Robertson overtook the rebels near 
Goona, and defeated them with a loss of some 500 men, 
but both Ajit Singh and Man Singh escaped. 

Tantia Topi, who had reached Sironje in a state of 
exhaustion, was now surrounded on all sides by British 
troops. Brigadier Smith, relieved from the care of 
Powri, had moved to a position West of Sironje ; Colonel 
Liddell, based on Jhansi, hemmed him in from the North 
and North-east, while General Michel held the South. 

After storming the fort of Isaogarh which gave 


them fresh supplies and some guns, the rebels under 
Tantia marched on Chanderi. Failing to capture this 
place, they managed to deceive their pursuers and, in 
spite of a heavy defeat by General Michel, 50 miles 
south of Lallitpur, succeeded in crossing the Vindhya 
range into Nagpur in the Central Provinces, and the 
heart of the Mahratta country. 

This seriously alarmed the Governors, both of 
Bombay and Madras, and further troops were put in 
motion. Foiled at Nagpur, Tantia tried to enter 
Baroda. But Brigadier Parke, acting under General 
Michel, overhauled them after an amazing march of 
241 miles in nine days, defeated them, and drove them 
into the Bhanswarra jungles, whence they gradually 
moved eastwards, until they again reached Gwalior 
territory. West of the Indore-Gwalior road, and joined 
up with Man Singh. 

Meanwhile a new rebel had arrived on the scene. 
Firoz Shah, a refugee from Oudh, fired by the glowing 
accounts of Tantia Topi’s achievements, resolved to join 
him. Napier, having received information of his move¬ 
ments, had sent out patrols to watch the approaches to 
Gwalior territory, and on the 12th December, heard of 
Firoz Shah’s presence near the junction of the Sind 
and Chambal rivers with the Jumna. Presuming that 
he would move up the Sind valley towards the Sironje 
jungles, Napier marched from Gwalior the same day 
with a small mobile force, including men of the 71st 
Highlanders on camels, a squadron of 14th Light 
Dragoons, some Mahratta Horse and a detachment of 
the 25th Native Infantry as well as two field guns. 
After a close chase of some 140 miles in very thick 
jungle, doing an average of 23 miles a day, they 
eventually ambushed the rebels at Ranod. To anyone 


familiar with the very difficult nature of the country 
in Central India, with its absence of roads, its black 
cotton soil full of holes, with light scrub in open places 
and winding village pathways ; its dense tiger jungles 
and rocky cliffs and glens, it is amazing that the British 
were able to keep track of the rebels at all. There 
was no heliograph signalling, no field telegraph apart 
from the permanent lines, and the only means of com¬ 
munication at a distance from the permanent telegraph 
lines, was by relays of horsemen, men on fast-riding 
camels, and possibly native runners in places where 
they could be relied upon. Therefore combinations with 
other forces in the field must have been very difficult. 

On this occasion it was the extreme mobility, and 
unremitting pursuit that was successful. The 25th 
Native Infantry were left behind before the last day, 
on which the force started at 4 a.m., and a stalwart 
Highlander, describing his experience of riding a camel, 
was heard to say: “ The trot’s varra weel, but an 
awful canter ! ” 

Napier, writing to his mother, thus describes the 

I have had a long and exciting pursuit after a party, and 
was fortunate enough to out-general them yesterday, and 
defeated them with great loss. We have been for five days 
running neck and neck with each other. The moment my 
bugles were heard they started off, and at last thought they 
had baffled me in the mountain paths, and turned off to 
plunder a rich and defenceless town. To their intense disgust, 
instead of having the feeble villagers to meet their formidable 
long array of horsemen, my little party burst like an apparition 
from behind a grove, and dashed into them—few stopped 
to look behind them. We took six elephants and killed several 
leaders, but the principal one, I fear escaped. I do not think 
there is now one left within 20 miles, and we shall eat our 
Christmas dinner in peace. 


Firoz Shah himself did escape, as Napier surmised, 
and made for Chanderi, but, hearing of the approach 
of Colonel Liddell from Lallitpur, he suddenly turned 
westwards to the Arone jungles, where he was again 
surprised by a column from Goona under the celebrated 
tiger hunter, Captain Rice, whose familiarity with the 
jungles stood him in good stead, as he came upon the 
enemy who was totally unaware, at eleven o’clock at 
night. No resistance was made, but Firoz Shah again 
escaped, and his followers dispersed in the jungles, 
leaving many horses, camels, arms and clothing behind 
them. From this point Firoz Shah found his way to 
Rajgarh in quest of Tantia Topi, and eventually joined 
both him and Man Singh who was still at large. 

Napier transferred his Head-quarters from Gwalior to 
Sironje about the end of February, 1859, in accordance 
with directions received from Indore to include the 
country from the Betwa River to the borders of Bhopal 
within his borders. In reporting the military situation 
to the Chief of the Staff, he explains that: “ The 
number of small States, unfriendly to the Gwalior rule, 
which surround Goona and Sironje, together with the 
continuous tract of jungles and ravines, render it 
difficult effectually to restore tranquillity. The terri¬ 
tories of Kotah, Jalra Paton and Gwalior interlace 
about Nahargarh and Shahabad, and there is a line 
of hills and jungles between those places difficult to 
traverse.” This was Rajah Man Singh’s country where 
he held several villages and kept 700 or 800 men, 
dispersed when pressed, but ready to join him on 
occasion for plunder, or to assist any foreign rebels 
that came into that district. Napier had had occasion 
to visit Nahargarh, and had already marked down 
the Parone jungles as a probable refuge for Tantia 


Topi, and resolved to root out this nest of rebels. 
With the consent of the Gwalior Durbar to construct 
roads from Parone to Goona and Sipri, he first pro¬ 
ceeded to level the fort of Parone to the ground, thus 
destroying Man Singh’s principal place of refuge. He 
then carried roads, mere clearances of jungle, to permit 
of the free passage of troops, without losing their way, 
first towards Goona and then towards Sipri via Sirsi 
and Mow to Augur. After that, he ordered the con¬ 
struction of another road back towards Parone, turning 
the fort of Shahabad belonging to Jalra Paton and 
exposing places in the jungle where the rebels con¬ 
stantly found shelter. 

During the construction of these roads, Napier with 
his own column of troops, had at first cut off supplies 
to the rebels from Nahargarh and with great difficulty 
obtained workmen, supplied them with food, and stood 
ready for emergencies. 

On the 27th March, Napier, having returned to 
Sironje, reported progress as above to the Chief of the 
Staff, enclosing correspondence with Captain Meade, 
whom he had left in that neighbourhood, showing how 
he himself directed every move of Captain Meade 
towards the hunting down of Man Singh. Napier 
closed his report with the following paragraph : “I 
thought it better to make the road my ostensible 
object, because a pursuit of the rebels through the 
jungles might be endless, and would make them of too 
much importance. Though of themselves insignificant, 
whenever any other object was in hand, thoy assembled 
in sufficient numbers to require attention, lest they 
should interfere with the trunk road. As many as 3,000 
with three guns were reported by Major Macpherson 
in December last. The numbers are, of course, always 


exaggerated. Several good gun-carriages were found 
at Parone, but the guns had probably been buried.” 

On the 2nd April Captain Meade reported to Sir 
Robert Napier that Rajah Man Singh had given himself 
up at Mahoodra, near the very village that Napier had 
directed him towards a fortnight before. 

A letter from Napier to the Chief of the Staff reports 
the Rajah’s surrender, and brings to the notice of the 
Commander-in-Chief and the Government “ the sound 
judgement displayed by Captain Meade in the manage¬ 
ment of this most important and very valuable 
service.” Napier added that he considered the sur¬ 
render of Man Singh a point of very great importance 
to the peace of the country from his hereditary interest, 
although not himself a man of any military talent or 

That Napier was correct in this estimate was 
shown by the capture of Tantia Topi, betrayed by his 
friend and comrade, Man Singh, a few days later, in 
the Parone jungles not far from the same village of 

In the words of Malleson: “ With the surrender of 
Man Singh the rebellion collapsed in Central India.” 
In discussing Tantia Topi and his achievements, the 
historian calls attention to the strategy which gave 
the pursued no rest, which cut them off from tho great 
towns and forced them to seek the jungles as their 
hiding-place. It is said that the whole distance 
covered by these rebels exceeded 3,000 miles. 

A reference to Sir Robert Napier’s letters to Lord 
Clyde of the 4th and 5th April show, however, that 
although the back of the rebellion was broken, there 
still remained the necessity of clearing up the remnants 
of rebel bands. But by the 20th April, many of the 


troops were withdrawn, and Sir Robert Napier on 
that day issued a farewell order as follows: 

Division Orders by Brigadier-General Sir Robert Napier, K.G.B., 
Commanding Gwalior Division. 

Camp Sironje, 

20 th April , 1859. 

To Major Lightfoot’s 1st Troop of Bombay Horse Artillery. 
To Captain Fuller’s and Captain Brown’s Field Batteries, 
Nos. 4 and 18 ! To the 14th Light Dragoons ! To the 86th 
Regiment! To the 3rd Bombay European Regiment ! and 
the 25th Bombay Native Infantry ! 

I cannot part with the troops now leaving the Gwalior 
Division, after having been associated with them during a 
year’s eventful service, without a few words to convey to 
them my admiration and regard, for their excellent and soldier¬ 
like conduct during the period they passed under my command. 

It would not become me to advert to the more prominent 
actions of the late campaign, to which the praise of the highest 
authority has already been awarded, but the services to which 
I will refer, and which the troops whom I now address, were 
called upon to render, when they had scarce had breathing 
timo after their wonderful exertions at Jhansi, Calpee and 
Gwalior, though not of so showy and conspicuous a nature as 
the great battles of the campaign, yet frequently called even 
for more individual exercise of valour, and endurance of hard¬ 
ship, and exposure at the most inclement season of the year. 

I need but advert to the state of the Gwalior Division 
when it came into our hands : the Jhansi District was overrun 
by many thousands of rebels, so that the British Cantonments 
were the only parts of which we had undisputed possession. 
In the South of Gwalior a dangerous insurrection was eagerly 
watched by 7,000 of Sindia’s disbanded troops. 

The return of the fugitive rebels under the Rao Sahib 
and Tantia Topi threatened to overturn every recommence¬ 
ment of order ; and at a later period the Oude rebels under 
Firoz Shah, evading many columns, swept through the 

To the excellent arrangements of Colonel Liddell and his 


gallant regiment the 3rd Bombay Europeans!—to Major 
Lightfoot and his noble troop of Horse Artillery!—to the 
Squadron of the 14th Light Dragoons under Major Thompson 
and to the force under Major McMahon ! is greatly due that 
the rebels have been defeated and scattered, and that Jhansi 
is restored to its present state of tranquillity. 

By the judicious promptitude of Colonel Liddell’s move¬ 
ments, the State of Tehree was saved from devastation in 
October last. Each of these officers, and the columns they 
led, have highly distinguished themselves. 

To Colonel Louth and the 86th Regiment, to Captain Brown, 
Bombay Artillery and their Batteries and to Colonel Robertson 
of the 25th Native Infantry, I am indebted for their services 
in every part of the District; in the ravines of the Chumbel! 
at the siege of Powrie ! in the pursuit and destruction by 
Colonel Rqbertson of its fugitive garrison at Beejaporo ! and 
in the surprise of Firoz Shah in the jungles of Arono by 
Captain Rice ! 

To Colonel Scudamore it is due that the State of Dutteah 
and the Central Districts of Gwalior were protected from the 
rebels under the Rao Sahib, who were baffled by the movements 
of his small but undaunted column. 

The brilliant 14th Dragoons and their charges at Jowra 
Alipur and Ranod will not easily be forgotten. 

Although I cannot hope that there is nothing left to be done, 
yet tranquillity has in a great measure been restored. 

The Rao Sahib and Firoz Shah with the remnants of 
their followers are scattered fugitives in the jungle ; Tantia 
Topi has paid the penalty of his crimes ; Rajah Singh has 

This incomplete notice but faintly records the valuable 
services which have been rendered to the State by the Gwalior 
Division during the past year, nor is it necessary now to advert 
to the share in those services borne by the excellent soldiers 
still in the Division. 

It will always be a source of pleasure and pride to me to 
remember that I have commanded such troops, and to their 
Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and soldiers, I bid a 
cordial and sincere farewell. 


In a letter to his mother, dated Gwalior, May 31, 
1859, Sir Robert Napier says : 

The war is over, Oude is conquered, the rebels driven out 
and Lord Clyde (my old friend Sir Colin Campbell) is going 
home. Lord Canning will also go home as soon as he can 
get a clear interval of peace. 

We have had a few rebels scouring about. I wrote to you 
of my having cut up a party under Firoz Shah. The re mna nt 
got out of my district as fast as they could and are now many 
hundreds of miles away. . . . 

I am sure you will be wonderfully proud to learn that the 
Duke of Wellington sent me the Great Duke’s despatches as 
a complimentary present, and wrote my name in the book 
with his own hand. I considered it a great compliment, but 
we poor “ Company ” Officers must hide our diminished heads 
now. We are reduced to Militia. 

Napier continued in command at Gwalior during 
the remainder of the year, and it was not until Decem¬ 
ber, 1859, that a letter is found from him to Lord 
Clyde foreshadowing the coming China Expedition. 


Very many thanks for kindly keeping your promise to write. 
I should have acknowledged your letter immediately, but have 
been all day deep in the inspection of the 17th Lancers. The 
books show that the men are wonderfully well-behaved. I 
wish I were Commander-in-Chief for a few hours to enact 
that no officer should be permanent in command of a troop, 
until he has written the whole of his Troop books for six 
months in his own hand. The idea is regarded as barbarous. 

The English news convey something of disappointment 
from the objection one feels to let the national pride have 
such a check without some “ amende ” which will put us again 
on good terms with ourselves, but the best side of the arg um ent 
is with the Chinese according to the English papers. Any¬ 
thing that will save us from a French interference in Chinese 
matters will be worth a sacrifice. The telegram, just in, says : 


‘The Frenoh are persevering with this expedition, bo they 
will not lose the opportunity. ... I am quito ready to move 
to China when the order may come. Should we take oui 
chargers ? . . 



It was with no very cheerful anticipations that Sir 
Robert Napier prepared to take up his new appoint¬ 
ment. On January 4, 1860, he wrote to his friend 
Baker as follows : 

You will have learned by this time that a division has been 
offered me, but in an indistinct and unsatisfactory manner 
as regards position and allowances. I have accepted on the 
understanding that I shall bo on the footing of a full Division. 
... I expect to be kept as a local general for show, but all 
real opportunities will be kept for the British (i.e. Queen’s) 
Officers. ... I do not like the expedition, it is too much 
in the dark as to plan of campaign, resources, etc., but I 
suppose it will clear up. 

On January 12 he quitted Gwalior for Calcutta, 
which he reached on the 23rd. The news from home 
made him still less hopeful. On February 1 he wrote i 1 
“ My brother has written me very alarming accounts 
of my mother’s health, which have made me quite ill, 
and led me to expect the worst. Should any misfortune 
happen, I trust to you, my dear friend, to do what you 
can for me until I can act. 2 . . . The shock of my 
brother’s letter has affected me so much that I almost 

1 To Colonel W. E. Baker. 

2 i.e. as to the care of his children in the event of Mrs. Napier’s 



fear I may not be able to undertake the China com¬ 

Owing to some neglect or accident no further home 
news reached Napier for many weeks, and the strain 
of such prolonged anxiety, at a time, moreover, when 
he specially needed a mind at ease, may be imagined. 
He did not allow his work to suffer, but it was performed 
at great effort and disadvantage to himself. In refer¬ 
ence to congratulations on his appointment, he wrote 
on February 9 i 1 “ How much better for me it would 
have been had I remained quietly at Calcutta as Chief 
Engineer and been contented, but I believe I felt then 
(1857) that all who could act in the field ought to do 
so for the sake of our country and the Government 
services. I can’t tell you how less than valueless the 
military rewards seem to me—the pleasuro of my 
friends and the corps is the only satisfaction that I 

Soon after his arrival in Calcutta, Napier had been 
selected by Lord Clyde for the arduous service of super¬ 
intending the entire equipment and embarkation of all 
troops proceeding from Bengal to China. 

In reference to this and other matters, he wrote on 
February 15: 

The home expectations as to time will be disappointed. 
Orders here were issued so late that the Cavalry cannot possibly 
bo in time to sail before the 1st April and we have not steamers 
for all the mounted branch. ... It would appear that all 
matters here have waited on orders from home, so that the 
troops are hurried down at the last moment. Originally it 
was intended that the Native Corps should be all volunteers 
—that plan was at length given up and the regiments were 
allowed to volunteer bodily, which they have done. They 

1 To Colonel W. E. Baker. 


ought at the first to have been ordered, and they would have 
taken it as the new order of things—not a regiment would have 
objected. The clothing department is very backward, and 
consequently the clothing is badly made up, and some materials 
are very inferior. . . . We have plenty of new pattern 
muskets but no ammunition; so the native troops take the 
old muskets—four varieties in one regiment. Nevertheless, I 
have no doubt the men will do very well. Young Brownlow 
—one of my subs, in the Hussunzye Campaign—is in com¬ 
mand of one corps, the 8th (Punjab N.I.). The Native 
Cavalry have only just started from Lucknow and Cawnpoor. 
But we are doing everything in our power here to equip the 
troops as rapidly as possible, and send them off as soon and 
as well appointed as we can. Had I had a carte blanche and 
three months’ clear notice I would have done it very differently. 
However this is all valuable experience gained. 

If we had a native division complete in the field, I should 
have no fear of the result, and have no doubt I could take the 
Sikhs into the Chinese Forts not a step behind the French¬ 
men—but as there will be nearly an equal number of English 
and French, the Native troops will run the risk of being left 
as chokidars 1 unless they are brigaded equally with the English 

I anticipate much pleasure and profit from serving with the 
French Army, though I wish it were not here. If my mind 
were not filled with such cares from home, I should so enjoy 
this campaign, but the pause of a moment to think fills me 
with painful anxiety. I think I am twice as grey since this 
last six weeks, 

Napier’s appointment (which was in addition to and 
entirely distinct from the duties of his own command), 
involved provision for every detail of equipment, food, 
clothing, ventilation and sanitation. The construction 
and security of the powder magazines, besides the 
drawing up of regulations for the voyage: all this for 
each of some sixty ships. In the case of the cavalry, 

1 Watchmen. 



it included in addition to their equipment, the special 
preparation of the hired transports for a voyage of 
5,000 miles during the hottest months, their sanitation 
and the opening up of their decks for ventilation (in 
spite of the resistance of the Superintendent of Marine 
and the anger of some of the masters of the steamers). 
In the matter of sanitation and ventilation, Napier 
had much opposition to encounter; official opinion 
was still very backward on these subjects, and there 
was as yet no general standard or consensus of opinion 
to appeal to. Even the cubic allowance per man of 
air was a matter of the widest dispute. Another 
element of difficulty was the necessity of meeting the 
caste and tribal prejudices of the Native troops in the 
supply of food and water, and not only of these. 

The success of all these arrangements, in which 
Napier was assisted by an excellent personal staff, 
was only made possible by the absolute authority 
ensured to him by Sir James Outram (President in 
Council) and his colleague, Sir H. B. E. Frere, who 
swept aside all departmental obstruction. “ Sir James 
Outram, fresh from the exigencies of war, knew well 
how injurious could be the application of regulations 
adapted for peace measures, to the wants of a military 
force under newly developed conditions. . . . Instead 
of having to fight for every thing under the harrow of 
regulations never intended for such occasions, all 
official red tape obstructions were brushed aside. 
Liberal outfits for European and Native troops, with 
foresight for all contingencies, were at once sanctioned : 
all just pay arrangements settled with liberal facility.” 1 

Under these circumstances, Napier was “ enabled to 

1 Memo, on services of Sir Bartle Frere written by Lord Napier 
in 1889. 


deliver the Bengal portion of the troops in China in 
excellent condition and fit for immediate service after 
a three-month voyage.” 1 2 

In spite of the hearty co-operation of Outram and 
Frere, Napier had to overcome much opposition. 
Writing at the time he said: “I am working hard 
against many Calcutta cliques and obstacles to expedite 
the China troops, and give them the best accommoda¬ 
tion that circumstances admit. I find the Marine 
department obstinately opposed to interference or any 
improvement of ventilation of transports. By organis¬ 
ing the work here, I have got it into good training, and 
had I begun when I wanted in November, I could have 
done it better and cheaper. I think I have in some 
degree added to the men’s efficiency and comfort.” * 

In conclusion we may quote a few words from a 
friend’s contemporary letter: Napier “ has done a 
world 3 of good in teaching people the art of ventilation, 
and has taught the Calcutta people the way to do 

many impossible things. A- gives him up as a 

man totally deficient in respect for vested interests 
and venerable malpractices.” 

By March 25 Napier had completed his work, and 
on that day he embarked for China in the Lancefield 
steamer. On the eve of his departure, Lord Clyde, 
who was up country with the Governor-General, wrot0 
to him: “I cannot let you go without a word of 
remembrance. Also I must thank you for all youi 
exertions in embarking the troops, which operation 
appears to have been most admirably well done.” 

1 Memo, on services of Sir Bartle Frere written by Lord Napier 
in 1889. 

2 Letter to Colonel W. E. Baker, March 3, 1860. 

8 Lieutenant W. H. Greathed to Colonel Yule, March 26, 1860. 



After touching at Penang and Singapore, the Lance• 
field reached Hong-Kong on April 12. Here Napiei 
found that Sir Hope Grant had left a week before for 
Shanghai to confer with the French Commander, 
General Cousin de Montauban. From Hong-Kong, 
Napier wrote to Colonel W. E. Baker, on April 14: 

We have just heard that the Chinese have rejected decidedly 
the ultimatum, so nothing remains but an appeal to force. 
The agreement with the French, limiting their forces and ours 
to a similar number, is another embarrassment added to the 
former ones—for, with the number of places to be held and 
defended, Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chusan, the 
foroe will be much diminished and may require a considerable 
addition before we can march to Pekin, if that becomes a 
necessity. For of course we must have our base of operations 
and communications with it thoroughly secured. It would 
not do to march to Pekin with our force era Vair. And if 
we go there and the Tartar dynasty should fly, nothing could 
relieve us of our dilemma, except the establishment of the 
Ming dynasty—a serious responsibility. However, a decided 
success against the Forts and possession of Tientsing may 
bring the Imperial court to reason. 

Everything is new and most interesting, and if I were only 
with a mind at ease as regards home, I should enjoy it very 
much. . . . The scenery to an Indian eye is a very pretty 
mixture of sweeping outlines of hills, a bright glittering sea, 
and white sea-birds, like sails in the distance, whilst grotesque¬ 
looking junks, with mat sails, and whole shoals of small craft 
furnish floating villages for a large part of the Chinese popu¬ 

In consequence of the rejection of the Anglo-French 
ultimatum, Sir Hope Grant proceeded to take possession 
of the island of Chusan. While awaiting the return 
of the Commander-in-Chief, Napier paid a short visit 
to Canton, when he wrote to Sir James Outram on 
April IB thus: 


General Michel arrived at Hong Kong the same day that 
I did and is now the senior officer. ... I saw Admiral 
Hope. . . . He seemed to be a very pleasant person— 
remarkably handsome amongst the “ Hopes ” even, with a 
most amiable expression of countenance. . . . Prom what 
little I can gather there does not seem to be much unity of 
administration. I do not mean dis-union, but no fixed 
organisation. That may be because I am not behind the 
scenes; certainly those who design are wise in keeping their 
plans quiet. . . . 

The first ship of the sixty 1 has come in—the Indomitable. 
. . . Orders are being sent to Japan to purchase ponies— 
some 3 or 4,000 are expected, which with the cattle we already 
have will try our resources in forage to the utmost. . . . 

You have read many accounts of Canton I have no doubt 
—none that I have read have given an adequate idea of the 
intense degree of active industrious life amongst this cheerful, 
busy and grotesque people. 

What do you think the Chinese in their Lingua franca call 
the English Bishop ?—No. 1 Heaven Pigeon: Pigeon being 
the general name for business of all kinds. 

After returning to Hong-Kong, Napier was, on 
April 24, appointed to the command of the camp at 
Kowloon on the opposite mainland, and here on the 
30th April, a review was held by Sir Hope Grant and 
two days later trial made of the Armstrong guns— 
then a complete novelty. 

Napier remained at Kowloon until May 11, when he 
proceeded to the lovely island of Potoo, to report on 
its suitability as a sanitarium and military station in 
place of Chusan. As to this question he had already 
written : a “ We want neither, but should have some 
station nearer the scene of operations, up near Pechili; 
and that is what we shall eventually come to. If 

1 i.e. the sixty from Bengal. 

2 To Colonel W. E. Baker, May 9, 1860. 



there comes any time of difficulty I may be of use, 
but I hope that is not likely, ... I shall get through 
some months in an interesting Country—much amused 
—some thousand rupees poorer than when I started, 
and not materially affected in any other way.” 

The examination of Potoo completed, Napier made 
hi s report to Mr. Bruce at Shanghai, and then (Mr. 
Bruce having decided against any change being made), 
returned to Chusan to make arrangements for tho 
comfort and safety of the British garrison there. 
From Chusan, he wrote to Outram on June 11: 

I have written to tell you about China—our force is gradually 
being collected and moving towards Pechili. I expect we 
shall not be all collected till the end of the month and perhaps 
not present ourselves before the Taku Ports until July is 
well advanced. I have now met our French Allies, and am 
inclined very much to concur in the Crimean accounts of 
them. They seem to be looking about with a restless craving 
eye for any place where they can settle down and raise a 
little revenue. I regret the alliance very much though we 
must do all we can to make the best of it. 

On the same day, June 11, Napier and his staff 
sailed in H.M.S. Imperieuse (as guests of Admiral 
Jones) for Tahlien Bay, the British point of rendezvous, 
which was reached on the 17th. While awaiting 
further orders, Napier on June 22, wrote his impressions 
of the situation to Sir James Outram as follows: 

... I looked of course anxiously for the arrival of our 
Calcutta troops to see what was the result of our transport 
arrangements. The very unexpected nature of the climate 
we have met with during, I am informed, a very unusual 
season, puts out ordinary calculations. Since passing Singa¬ 
pore we have had no heat, and the effect of “packing” on 
troops has not had much opportunity of being developed. 
Yet I am convinced that the points arrived at by experience in 


Calcutta are fully borne out by the present result, and will be 
still more so. 

The space for European troops should not be less than 15 feet 
per man. 

A double deck ship should not be used for transport without 
far better ventilating arrangements than any now in use. 

Native troops should not have less than 12 or 13 feet per 
man, instead of 9 feet, the miserable standard by the Indian 
Quarter-Master-General’s department. . . . The 19 Punjab 
Infantry in the Bosphorus at nino feet per man, arc, even now 
attacked with scurvy. 

The re-shipment from Hong Kong appears to me to have 
been, on the part of the navy, without any due consideration 
of the subject. The ultimate effects of thrusting a crowd of 
men into a man-of-war, probably to be exposed on deck for 
days, never seems to occur to a naval officer. As long as he can 
turn out his freight alivo, what ultimately happens to them 
never seems to be counted. Nor is the expense of largo 
hospital ships,—transit of invalids returning home and rein¬ 
forcements coming out, ever set to balance the first expenso 
of hiring a few more transports, and having an ample supply 
of fresh provisions. . . . 

We have now assembled here, in Talien Whan Bay, nearly 
all the British force ; a portion of the cavalry, and a very 
small portion of infantry alone remaining due, but the com¬ 
missariat is all behind and I believe will break down. There 
ought to have been a commissariat officer here months ago, 
with plenty of assistants and interpreters, to establish a depot 
of forage and supplies. We have no fresh provisions, no forago ; 
the heavy artillery and engineer park are also behind. Of 
what they may consist I do not know, but I learnt that no 
siege material has come—a shipload of fascines would not 
have been amiss. In all these arrangements it appears to 
me that the Home Service is much behind our Indian practice. 
The French are collected at Chc-fu. ... I do not think 
they are better appointed than wc aro, in point of carriago 
and supplies, but I have no doubt they will supply themselves 
much sooner, and they have a better place of rendezvous, 
as the country there produces many more supplies than this. 


Here it is barren—sparse population, no cattle, sheep or 
vegetables,—water even, procured with difficulty. 1 

I visited one of the French transports—by surprise : There 
were 1,100 men on board. Everything was clean and orderly. 
The ’tween decks lofty. The ship, solely intended for troop 
accommodation, brought its men from France round the Cape 
without sickness or, I believe, a single death. This ship, the 
Entreprenant, appeared to great advantage compared to our 
transport ships. Another which I visited, the Calvados was, 
on the contrary, very dirty indeed. . . . 

I found the French generals very well disposed. Montauban 
was rather testy at some supposed neglect, but very soon came 
round and was pleasant and sociable, and the two junior 
generals, Jainin and Colineau, were both agreeable. The 
diplomats, the subordinates, are I think rather a doubtful 
set, clever and unscrupulous. Some of them at Chusan have 
ferreted out every possible way of screwing out some money, 
and wish us to join. This we have declined, and it was left 
to the C. in C.’s and ministers of both nations to decide 
whether the practice is to continue. 

The following extract from another letter of the 
same date further shows Napier’s view of the situa¬ 
tion : a 

We wait the arrival of General Grant to move on. I daresay 
we shall get on as well as former expeditions—not better—• 
the mixture of home management and Indian is against us. 
I do not expect the flagrant errors of the Crimea, but much 
less efficiency than there might have been. The commis¬ 
sariat ought to have been at work up here four months ago, 
collecting supplies at one of the islands or at some depot 
anywhere near the rendezvous, viz. near the gulf of Pechili. 
A few hundred coolies and a few starved mangy ponies are 
all the carriage as yet ready. Many of our troops are crowded, 

1 “ The harbour at Talien Whan accommodates our whole fleet 
in safety, which would not be the case at the French side." 

s To Colonel W. E. Baker, June 22, 1860. 


whilst ships, with admirable transport accommodation are 
filled with naval stores. It is impossible to persuade an 
admiral that any room is too cramped for a soldier, or that 
he wants anything on shore but his “ pack.” And as much 
of the transport accommodation rests with the navy, we have 
crowded troop-ships and accommodation wasted for want oi 
a few store ships. 

After giving other instances, the letter continues: 

These things will no doubt cost us a large percentage of oui 
men, as they have always done heretofore, but no doubt we 
shall do our work in the end. It was fortunate for the Calcutta 
Government that I made such a stir for their transport im¬ 
provement. ... I did only what I could in spite of ah 
sorts of departmental and marine vested obstructions, not al 
all what I would have done had I had my way from the begin¬ 
ning. After all, very few of the regiments that I fitted oul 
have come to my division. . . . here wo are at the 22nd June, 
and I fear we shall not fly our flag over the Taku Ports undei 
a month from this date at the earliest. If they are well forti¬ 
fied towards the land, it may take us longer. When we gef 
them we may obtain the resources of the country, at present 
we get nothing. . . . 

In the meantime. Sir Hope Grant had been in 
conference with General de Montauban, who, on 
June 17, explained his intentions to his colleague thus : 

He proposed to land at a spot 25 miles south of the large 
fort which had done so much damage to our fleets the previous 
year, and then to march up along the coast through a wretchec 
semi-barren country, taking with him his light guns only 
Por provisions and water, he would rely upon his ships. This 
scheme appeared to me very hazardous. The difficulties oi 
landing would be great: heavy winds might very probablj 
arise and prevent communication with his ships for days 
and, above all, it was most unlikely that the large fort, which 
was armed with about sixty very heavy guns, could be com¬ 
pelled to yield to the fire of light field pieces only. Before 
attending the conference, I had consulted with Admiral Hope. 



and we both came to the conclusion that our most judicious 
course would be to proceed up the river Pehtang, eight miles 
north of the Peiho, capture the town of Pehtang and there 
establish a base for future operations ... by landing near 
the town of Pehtang, we could attack in rear the Taku Forts, 
which would thus probably fall after a short resistance. 

General Montauban remained wedded to his opinions, and 
proposed that we should each of us carry out our own scheme 
independently, as far as possible. To this I readily agreed. 
I had an amply sufficient force for my purpose, and we should 
thus avoid many causes for disagreement. My satisfaction 
was marred by the French General’s statement that he could 
not be ready to begin operations until the 15th July. . . . 
We were prepared to open operations on 1st July, but the 
French very naturally insisted on a simultaneous start; and 
as I had received strict injunctions from home to act in unison 
with our allies, I had no alternative but to wait patiently. 1 2 

On June 26 Sir Hope reached Tahlien Bay, and 
General de Montauban on the same day established 
his head-quarters at Chefoo on the opposite (the 
south) shore of the entrance to the Gulf of Pechili. 
It having become apparent that no advance could take 
place for some time, the British troops were now landed 
and encamped on the breezy slopes above Tahlien Bay.® 
On July 12 Sir Hope wrote to Sir R. Napier as 

You are aware that I took a run over to Chefoo to get 
General Montauban to fix a day for starting. I did not, how¬ 
ever, succeed, but on the 20th he told me he would be prepared 
to settle the time. 3 4 Yesterday he and Admiral Charner 
came over here to pay their respects to Lord Elgin and a visit 

1 Incidents in the China War of 1860, by Gen. Sir Hope Grant, 
pp. 34-36. 

2 The camps of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were separated by an 

interval of about 17 miles. 

4 In clearer language, Montauban would be prepared on the 20th 
to settle the time. 


to me. I took them over to Hand Bay and paraded the 
Artillery and Cavalry for their inspection. Nothing could 
be better than their turnout. The men are all magnificent 
fellows and the horses were in beautiful condition, and you 
might have seen your face in their coats. Genera] Montauban 
said it was a sight to see in Hyde Park or at Paris. 

This testimony to the complete success of Napier’s 
arrangements for the 5,000-mile voyage of the cavalry 
must have been very gratifying to him. 

In the same letter, Sir Hope; added: “ The Prench, 
from what I could make out from Montauban yesterday, 
will be ready at the latest by the 25th inst.” 

It was on July 26 that the allied fleets and transports 
at last weighed anchor. “ So soon as the fleet had 
cleared the bay and the transports . . . had got fairly 
under weigh, the Admiral signalled from the flag-ship, 
the Chesapeake, ‘Form single lines and put on as much 
sail as you can.’ . . . Diming the afternoon clouds 
of smoke on our port bow showed the French fleet 
from Chusan sailing for the same destination. It was 
a glorious sight with a fine day and fair breeze, the 
whole combined fleets, with every stitch of canvas set, 
and numbering some 330 vessels.” 1 

The fleet anchored before Pehtang on the 28th, but 
the inaccessibility of the coast joined to the roughness 
of the weather and other reasons, delayed operations. 

On August 1, the First Division commenced dis- 
embarkation. Next day, the allies occupied, without 
opposition, the town and forts of Pehtang, which had 
been abandoned by the Chinese. While this business 
was in progress Napier was unemployed, but on the 
4th he received the welcome order to land, and did 
so at once. The head-quarters assigned to the 2nd 

1 Journal of Lieut, (afterwards Gen. Sir Peter) Lumsden, 



Division was a joss house, “ which in the grey of the 
evening looked very sumptuous and to be filled with 
boxes, which might prove to be coffins or treasure 
cases. As the night went on, I saw my chief restless 
and walking about; enquiry elicited the cause, viz. 
that Sir R. N. could not rest as he was certain his 
couch was a resting-place of some old Chinaman, we 
gradually realised . . . that we sojourned amongst 
occupied coffins . . . however, we had so much to do 
and so little time for sleep that we existed there until 
our departure on the 12th.” 1 

Next day, August 5, the disembarkation of the 2nd 
Division commenced. All landing of troops, horses, 
guns and stores devolved on the navy, who worked 
splendidly “ without regard to any arbitrary distinction 
between day and night.” During much of the time 
rain fell in torrents, “ and as the interior of Pehtang 
is below high-water mark, the streets were knee-deep 
in mud, composed, in addition to the usual impurities 
pertaining to that substance, of flour, Tartar hats, 
field rakes, coals, shutters, oil cake, chaff, china cups, 
matting, beer bottles, tin cans and kittens. . . . The 
cavalry and artillery horses were picketed in the 
streets, where alone space was available; and how 
they and we and everybody escaped death from 
typhus, fever or plague, Heaven only knows. The 
Sanitary Officer was outraged by the result.” * 

The town of Pehtang is surrounded by an extensive 
mud flat, covered by the sea at high tide. About 8 
miles south-west of Pehtang, and connected with it by 
a narrow raised causeway is the village of Sinho, then 
held in force by the enemy. Sir Robert Napier, having 

1 Journal of Sir Peter Lumsden. 

a Greathed, The China War of 1860. 


satisfied himself that troops could move against Sinho 
by a circuitous track over the mud flat to the right of 
the causeway, submitted to Sir H. Grant a project of 
attack, which was accepted, and of which the principal 
feature was ultimately carried out by his own division. 

“ In the first instance Sir H. Grant, in communication 
with General Montauban projected an advance . . . 
direct along the causeway, commanding which on the 
shore side, were Chinese batteries which swept it. Sir 
R. Napier, on being asked, pointed out that such an 
attack might lead to disaster, and urged Sir H. Grant 
to allow him with the 2nd Division to cross the arm of 
the sea which divided Pehtang from the mainland which 
was fordable (though difficult) for all arms at low water. 
Reconnaissance had proved this . . . and so eventually 
it was arranged, and the 2nd Division, instead of 
forming the rearguard . . . preceded the advance of 
the column.” 1 

In a letter to Sir James Outram (apparently written 
on August 9) Napier says : 

Yesterday it was decided that the advance should take 
place to-morrow—1st Division 8 to lead, this being their 
second advance—we in reserve and to hold the depots here ; 
one of my-Armstrong batteries to go with them. This was 
very unfair as I had even been sent for to give a sketch of the 
operations—which was to be carried out. Everyone I think 

1 Lumsden’s Journal. 

8 Sir Robert Napier, guided by information from Native sources, 
reconnoitred the approaches to Sinho on August 7 ; be saw enough 
to fully satisfy him that his scheme of turning the enemy’s left was 
perfectly practicable, but the extent of water probably still con¬ 
cealed some details. It was thus reserved for Colonel Wobeley in 
a fuller reconnaissance in force on August 9 to ascertain (the waters, 
having according to the French official account, sunk furthest on 
that day), the actual track for debouching on Sinho. On the 10th 
Sir Robert again reconnoitred with the Commander-in-Chief, 



felt ashamed of it. To-day a reconnoitring party found a 
new road for debouching and it caused the alterations that 
my division takes the lead with its own batteries and, if the 
report of the reconnaissance is true, I shall have a great oppor¬ 
tunity. I do think nearly all the staff seemed relieved at 
this—and Grant himself too. We are of course delighted at 
fair play. 

In accordance with Napier’s project it was decided 
that the 2nd Division and British Cavalry should 
follow the northern approach, while the 1st Division 
and the French, thus secured from surprise, should 
proceed by the raised causeway already named. Two 
days of hard work were devoted to making the tracks 
practicable by fascines and drainage. 

The 2nd Division marched on August 12, at 4 a.m., 
but so difficult was progress through the expanse of 
mud, that it took the troops six hours to traverse 4 
miles. 1 No one who did not see it could fully realize 
the difficulty of advancing through that “ deep 
tenacious mud,” 2 in which “ gun wheels frequently 
were embedded axle-deep.” 3 Sir Robert Napier sub¬ 
sequently reported: 

I advanced by brigades in line of contiguous columns at 
quarter distance, my front covered by an advanced guard of 
200 men, 3rd Buffs and Milward’s Battery, under Lieut.- 
Colonel Sargent; the cavalry was formed on my right. 

The advance was liable to attack from the North as 
well as the front. The enemy appeared in great force 
in front of Sinho and in an entrenchment barring the 
causeway. Observing this in the approach of the 
causeway column (1st Division and French), Sir Robert 
Napier advanced directly towards the enemy, 

1 Greathed, loc. cit. 

2 Napier’s report of August 24, 1860. 3 Ibid. 


taking their positions in flank and threatening their line of 
retreat. On arriving within 1500 yards, Milward’s Armstrong 
guns opened on the enemy. They were the first shots fired 
by that weapon in war and the range and accuracy of their 
fire excited the admiration of the force. The Tartar horsemen 
were surprised by the fire but not shaken. After some hesita¬ 
tion they streamed out in a long line through a passage across 
a marsh which separated us, and forming with great regularity 
and quickness enveloped my force in a great circle of skir¬ 
mishers, the northern portion formed by the Cavalry known 
to be in that direction, who hitherto had kept out of sight, 
seemed to rise in position from the plain. 1 

“ Napier’s Infantry were speedily deployed, his 
Cavalry let loose and artillery kept going ; and though 
the heavy ground was rendered more difficult for our 
cavalry by ditches broad and deep, whose passages 
were known to the enemy alone, yet within a quarter 
of an hour of their advance the Tartar force was 
everywhere in retreat. The allied left then advanced 
along the causeway, and . . . occupied Sinho which 
the enemy deserted on the success of our right.” 3 
Sir Robert Napier then advanced and joined the allies. 

Sinho lies about half a mile from the North bank 
of the Peiho River ; a raised causeway traversing salt 
marshes connects it with Tongkoo, a large town sur¬ 
rounded by a formidable rampart, mounting fifty guns 
and protected by a double wet ditch. Tongkoo lies 
about half-way between Sinho and the nearest of the 
Northern Takoo forts (distant about 6 miles), to which 
it bars the approach. 

Next day, August 13, while waiting for the ammuni¬ 
tion to come up from Pehtang, a broad belt of dry 
ground was found bordering the river, 8 by whicC the fort 

1 Napier’s report. 2 Greathed, loc. cit. 

s By Major W. H. Greathed, R.E., extra A.D.C. to Sir R, Napier, 



could be approached. Bridging material was obtained 
by pulling down houses, etc., and all arrangements 
completed for the attack. 

On August 14 the allies captured the place, which 
was then occupied by Sir R. Napier’s division, which 
had been held in reserve. 

It had been intended to attack the North and South 
Takoo forts simultaneously with a force operating on 
each side of the Peiho, and a bridge of boats was 
commenced at Sinho with this object. The French 
were very tenacious of the South attack, but Sir 
Robert Napier, from the first perceived that success 
would be better secured by confining the first attack to 
the North forts. While expressing his strong prefer¬ 
ence for this course, he did not object to entertain the 
alternative of the double attack, always provided 
sufficient troops should be forthcoming to make it safe, 
but in the meantime he made all preparations for the 
Northern attack. 

Thus, on August 15, Sir R. Napier wrote to Sir H. 

The effect of the bridge will be very good, as it would en¬ 
danger the safety of the enemy on their side of the river and 
shake them very much. The point, however, to consider is, 
if we have force enough to hold our communications and the 
bridge, and still advance on this side ... it will be a longer 
and a safer business to go steadily through the fort from this 
side but the other plan might hasten matters very much. 

Tongkoo, as we have seen, was occupied on August 
14; the next four days were devoted to bridging canals, 
constructing raised causeways, and “ making roads to 
the front for heavy artillery, in preparation for advanc¬ 
ing on the Northern forts of Taku.” 



By dint of most elaborate reconnaissance, conducted in 
person, General Napier had discovered that open ground near 
the North Fort could be reached by artillery on the com¬ 
pletion of a line of causeways 1 whioh he had commenced 
over the inundated ground near Tongku, and by establishing 
crossing places at certain points on five or six canals. He 
urged an immediate attack on the North forts only, and having 
obtained permission to throw out a picquet towards them on 
the 19th made so good a use of it, that in one night the passage 
of the canals was completed and the Commander in chief was 
conducted next morning (20th) within eight hundred yards 
of the nearest fort. Seeing all obstacles to the approach of 
the forts overcome Sir Hope Grant frankly consented to General 
Napier’s scheme, and entrusted its execution to his division. 
The French Commander was very adverse to the plan proposed. 
He formally protested against it, but General Grant main¬ 
tained his determination. 2 

The two following letters show clearly the situation 
on the 19th August, the day that the picquet was 

My dear Naimer, 

General Montauban has come down to me and makes great 
objections to the attack on the North Fort . . . amongst 
other things he says he will not be able to finish the bridge 
over the Peiho as his Engineers will be employed at the North 
side. It will be folly to change our plan I think. But I 
should like to hear what you think of it. 

Yours sincerely, 

J. Hope Grant. 

1 Qth Aug. 

Sir Robert Napier at once replied: 

Tttng-Koo, Aug. 19, 1860. 

My dear General, 

I would not think of altering attack on the North forts 
now it has gone so far. We do not want the French assistance 

1 Napier’s dispatch of August 26, 1860. 

2 Greathed, loc. cit. 



here at all. Let them take their Engineers to the bridge, but 
let me go on at these forts ; I believe I can get them for you 
very quickly. I have been over the ground to-day again, 
and have everything ready to make the bridges, for your ad¬ 
vance on Tuesday (viz. the 21st). Pray do not let them stop 
us, but say that we do not require the force here, they may 
all cross the bridge. 

During the day and night of the 20th the batteries 
were completed, the remaining canals on the front 
bridged and the Artillery placed in position before 
daylight. The French Commander’s adverse opinion 
remained unmodified, and on August 20 he lodged a 
strongly worded protest against the attack on the 
Northern forts which he stated would be “ completely 
useless.” At the same time he intimated that if the 
Northern attack were persisted in, he would send a 
French Force to co-operate, while himself declined all 
responsibility for the result. 1 At dusk on the 20th 
an A.D.C. of General Colineau announced to Napier 
the arrival of the French at Tongkoo. Sir Robert 
“ immediately took him to the position which ” he 
“ intended the French Force to occupy, 2 and also along 
the whole front, that he might be thoroughly acquainted 
with the General arrangements.” At midnight the 
French were guided to their position 3 by Major 
Greathed, A.D.C., by a line of advance perfectly clear 
and unobstructive. 

Next day, August 21, Sir R. Napier’s advance com- 

1 The force promised by Montauban was 1,000 Infantry and two 
field batteries, but as far as can be learned only one battery and 
about 400 men were actually sent. (See Sir Hope Grant’s Journal 
and his editor’s notes, pp. 86 and 96.) 

* Napier had assigned to the French the post of honour on the 
right but covered by his own artillery. 

8 Napier’s dispatch on August 26, 1860. 


menced at 4 a.m., the French joining punctually as 
settled, two hours later. By 6 a.m. all the British 
batteries were in play, and a few French guns soon 
bore on the Southern forts and batteries. The enemy 
replied vigorously, but their fire gradually diminished 
before that of the allies (thirty-one British and six 
French guns and mortars). It had already diminished 
when a shell from a British battery struck the magazine, 
causing a grand explosion ; a shell from a gunboat 
made a similar explosion in the further North fort. 

The guns of the fort attacked being nearly silenced, 
Sir R. Napier ordered an advance of all the field 
artillery to within 450 yards, so that 

the fire of our batteries was concentrated on the left of the 
gateway 1 with a view to breaching. The skirmishers of the 
allied forts were advanced to about 300 yards from the enemies’ 
works. . . . The solid rampart adjoining the gateway re¬ 
sisted the efforts of the lighter artillery and a heavy gun was 
boing brought up when an advance of the skirmishers was 
directed, which brought them to the edge of the ditch ; as 
their movement partially masked the fire of the artillery, field 
guns were advanced within a hundred yards of the works. . . . 
The French on the right succeeded in crossing the ditches by 
ladder bridges and effected a lodgement at the unflanked angle 
of the work abutting on the river. 

The cumbrous English pontoon bridge proved useless, 
owing to half the carriers being disabled by the heavy 
fire. Sir Robert Napier therefore 

directed ladders to be brought forward and passed across the 
ditches . . . and parties of our Infantry effecting the passage 
of the ditches, some by means of the ladders and others by 
swimming, made their way to the gate. The enemy made 
a noble and vigorous resistance ; no entry had yet been made. 

1 “ The gate was known to bo built up.”— Dispatch, August 26, 



Napier therefore brought up two howitzers and subse¬ 
quently two 9-pounders to within eighty yards of the 

which, firing over the heads of the men on the berm, cut 
away the parapet at the points where the defence was most 
obstinate. After a lengthened struggle the French entered 
the embrasure at their angle by escalade, and the British 
climbed into the partial breach near the gate at the same 
moment. , . . The troops of both nations now poured into 
the place, but, foot by foot the brave garrison disputed the 
ground. The loss of the enemy, when they were ulti¬ 

mately driven out of the works, was very severe. ... It 
was half-past eight o’clock when this fort, now proved to be 
the key of the whole position, was in our hands. The guns of 
the cavalry were turned against the opposite Southern forts, 
on which fire was still maintained from the heavy batteries 
on our right attack. 

Two fresh regiments were brought up, and the artillery 
adjusted to enfilade the further fort. A further 
advance was immediately ordered on the further fort 
when, on the artillery again coming into action, the 
enemy’s fire suddenly ceased everywhere and white 
flags were displayed on all the forts still in their hands. 
The British loss was 201 killed and wounded; the 
Tartar loss was estimated at 2,000 men. “ All the 
wounded enemy ” were “ carefully attended to.” 
Napier on this occasion had his field-glass shot out of 
his hands, his sword-hilt broken by a shell fragment, 
three bullet holes in his coat and one in his boot, but 
he escaped unhurt. The brief subsequent operations 
conducted by Sir Hope Grant in person completed 
the victory, and “ before evening the entire position 
on the Peiho, covering an area of six square miles and 
containing upwards of six hundred guns ” 1 was sur- 
1 Greathed, loc. cit. 


rendered to the Allies. On August 22 Admiral Hope 
pushed a squadron of gunboats up the Peiho to Tientsin 
(distant 35 miles). Lord Elgin and Sir H. Grant 
proceeded there on the 24th and the troops gradually 
followed. Sir Robert Napier was detained some days 
by the arrangement necessary for the safety of Taku, 
but by September 5 he and his Division also reached 

At this time there was a general expectation of 
speedy peace, and Sir H. Grant even began to con¬ 
template the early return home of the greater part of 
the army. Napier having expressed some natural 
annoyance at the number of detachments taken from 
the 2nd Division, Sir Hope apologized to him for the 
depletion of his Division on the ground that “You 
(Napier) had the best command on the first day and you 
took all tho Takoo forts and, in fact, finished the war.” 1 

The war, however, was not “ finished,” and the 
advance on Pekin was resumed on September 8. 
Although the negotiations with the Chinese,had col¬ 
lapsed, there was then no rupture, and the local 
authorities undertook to furnish transport animals. 

Sir Hope Grant left on September 9, but, at his 
second halt, all the Chinese cattle were quietly removed. 
In consequence of this breakdown, Napier’s division, 
which was to have followed, had, instead, to devote 
its carriage to the 1st Division and to remain at 
Tientsin. “ In this emergency the Commissariat would 
have had the greatest difficulty in feeding the troops 
in the front but for the measures taken by Sir Robert 
Napier, who remained in command at Tientsin.” 2 

1 Letter to Sir R. Napier, d. August 30, 1860. 

8 Greathed, loc. c it. Sir R. Napier succeeded Sir J. Michell on 
September 12. 



As soon as news of Sir Hope Grant’s dilemma 
arrived, he ordered up all available carriages (including 
even the Sappers’ bullocks) from Taku. On Septem¬ 
ber 12 he wrote : “ Carriage by land is a failure . . . 
we must look to the water.” Until then any suggestion 
of water transport above Tientsin had been rejected 
as impracticable. But Napier had observed the Chinese 
system of convoys of market boats which are laden 
in the small side canals (by which most of the villages 
in this region are connected with the Peiho), and 
formed into flotillas in the river. Under Napier’s 
orders, by aid of the Navy, 1 the canals throughout the 
district were cleared of all suitable boats, and the tidal 
grain boats of the Peiho stopped. All boats thus 
seized were paid their hire. So well were these orders 
executed by the Navy, whose cordial assistance Napier 
always warmly acknowledged, that by next day he was 
able to inform the Commander-in-Chief that he believed 
100 boats had been collected. 

Another urgent matter claimed Napier’s attention. 
A Memo, by Brigadier-General Stavclcy on the state 
of the General Hospital hid Sir R. Napier to visit it 
“ when everything was found to be in a discreditable 
state, and was immediately brought to the notice 
of the Principal Medical Officer . . . who felt much 
hurt at his Department being interfered with, but 
a Purveyor’s Department hitherto unknown to 
exist, was brought to the front and matters put to 
rights.” 8 

1 To Captain McCleverty, R.N., dated September 12. This 
officer, who died a few years later, had been one of Napier’s school¬ 
fellows at Hall Place. 

8 From Journal of Lieut, (now General Sir Peter) Lumsden, 
under date September 16. 


At this time an immediate conclusion of the war 
was generally expected: this was not, however, the 
expectation of Sir Robert Napier, nor of Colonel 
(afterwards F.-M. Viscount) Wolseley. The Chinose 
Commissioners had written to Lord Elgin accepting 
his terms, and the place (Tung-Chow, 8 miles from 
Pekin) had actually been fixed for the ratification of 
the treaty. Accordingly, on September 17, a small 
party was despatched from Head-quarters to select a 
lodging for Lord Elgin and camping ground for his 
escort. They were well received at Tung-Chow, but 
fresh difficulties were started. However, after five or 
six hours’ discussion the Chinese Commissioners gave 
way, and the British remained that night as their 

Next morning the tone of the Chinese changed and 
the hostile movements of the Tartar army, followed 
by the murder of a French officer, brought on the 
victorious action of Chan-Kya-wan, in which seventy- 
five guns and large quantities of small arms were 
captured by the Allies. At this time the crop of 
millet and maize was so high that a mounted man could 
only see to a distance of 20 yards. Meanwhile, in tho 
other parts of the field officers, civilians and escorts 
had been nearly all severally treacherously captured 
and removed to Pekin, where most of them were 
imprisoned in the summer palace. Here Bowlby, De 
Norman, Anderson and ten of his men were done to 
death under circumstances of such fiendish atrocity 
as Mandarin cruelty can alone practise. Our people 
bore their sufferings bravely and even cheerfully, and 
it is affecting to read of the efforts made by Anderson’s 
native troopers—themselves tightly bound hand and 
foot, to reach their Commander and gnaw away his 



bonds. Brabazon 1 and a French Abbe were a degree 
less unfortunate, as they were (as far as could be 
ascertained) simply beheaded on September 21, the 
very day on which the Allies fought the decisive action 
on Pali-Chow. 

In contrast to these official barbarities, it is pleasant 
to remember the kindness shown to Parkes and Loch 
by the Chinese criminals with whom they were in 

When Mr. Loch brought news to Head-quarters of 
Parkes’ detention, Captain Brabazon, R.A., asked leave 
to return with Loch (under flag of truce) to Parkes* 
assistance. He was an accomplished artist and de¬ 
scribed by Sir Peter Lumsden as an excellent and 
energetic Artillery Officer. 

After the fight of the 18th Sir Hope Grant had sent 
an express to summon General Napier, with as much 
of the 2nd Division as could be spared. Details 
had to be furnished by this division to hold Tientsin 
and the Peiho fort and secure communications with 
the base. Napier recommended that this depletion 
should be diminished by entrusting the Peiho Forts 
and Tientsin to the Navy, Admiral Hope having 
expressed his willingness to carry out this arrange¬ 
ment. ... “ The order found them ready to move, 

and General Napier reached Head-quarters on the 
24th, having marched seventy miles in sixty hours, 
with a supply of ammunition that was much required, 
escorted by a company of Brownlow’s light-footed 
Punjabees,” 2 

1 Times correspondent: was attached to the British Legation 
at Pekin. 

2 Greathed, loc, cit. 


Sir Peter Lumsden has recorded in his journal that, 
after Mess on the 22nd, Sir R. Napier had received 
an urgent express from Colonel MacKenzie, the 
D.Q.M.G., asking him to do his utmost to be at Head¬ 
quarters in time for a Council of War to be held early- 
on the 24th. “ For if you are not here, you may find 

the whole of us back with you. Owing to the prisoners 
in the hands of the enemy, of which the French also 
had several, the Political and Military Authorities find 
themselves in a difficulty. It is easy to accept the 
theory that operations must proceed as if no such 
prisoners existed, and to leave them to their fate, but 
such action is practically impossible.” 

Napier rode into the allied camp two hours after 
daybreak on September 24, and the result of the 
Council of War, held that day, was to order all the 
troops to push forward to join Head-quarters and every 
arrangement to be made to advance on Pekin as soon 
as the siege train may come up. 

The siege train began to arrive on the 27th and all 
preparations were actively pushed forward for the 

On October 5 the advance of the whole force took 
place, 1 “ in line of the contiguous quarter distance 
columns—the Cavalry Brigade on right of line: the 
French in column along the highroad to our left. . . . 
The project was for the cavalry to make a detour of 
some miles to our right, and to come into the highroad 
to Tartary in rear of the enemy’s supposed position. 
The French to our left to attack the enemy supposed 
to be towards their left front, whilst we attempted 

1 The British Force was ready to advance on the previous day, 
but was obliged to wait for the French whose ammunition had not 
then come up. 


to turn the enemy’s position, by moving down parallel 
to the northern face of the intrenchment.” 1 

The main British Force carried out their part of 
these movements, but the Cavalry “ as night closed in, 
got entangled in narrow roads and suburbs, eventually 
found themselves in bivouac about three miles from 
the Summer Palace,” on the right of the advance. 

Meantime the French, owing to some unexplained 
cause, “ instead of moving as agreed upon to their left 
flank immediately after our advance, changed direction 
to their right, and passing along our rear moved direct 
on the Emperor’s Palace of Yuen-Ming-Yuen 2 * —a few 
miles distant, of which they immediately took posses¬ 
sion, and bivouacked in its enclosure.” 

These facts only became known to the British 
Commander next morning (October 7). Sir Hope 
Grant and Sir Robert Napier with some of the Head¬ 
quarter staff then rode out to the Summer Palace, 
where they found the French Head-quarters. “ It has 
no doubt been arranged between us that we should 
ultimately march to the Summer Palace, but I expected 
that in the first instance the French would follow us.” 

“ At the entrance to the Palace, General Montauban 
met Sir Hope Grant and particularly requested him to 
confine his retinue to his personal staff as the place 
was full of valuables, which should be carefully divided 
between the two armies. Whilst waiting here we saw 
French Officers passing freely in and out of the Palace 
laden with loot. . . .” 4 Before leaving the Summer 

1 Lumsden’s Journal. 

* Commonly known as a Summer Palace and situated “ six miles 
to the North of Pekin and four miles away to our right.”— Greathed. 

8 Sir Hope Grant, in Incidents of the China War of 1860, p. 126. 

4 Lumsden’s Journal. 


Palace Sir Hope Grant appointed three Officers to take 
charge of the British share of the prize captured in 
the palace, “ But in the absence of any British troops, 
the arrangements broke through, and our prize agents, 
finding the principal valuables appropriated by the 
French, abandoned their functions. Thereupon, on the 
8th, indiscriminate plunder was allowed; but as of 
the British a few officers only had access to the Palace, 
and none of the men, our officers were (on October 9th) 
desired to give up all they had brought away, and the 
property they had collected was ultimately sold by 
auction for the benefit of the troops actually present 
in the field before Pekin. . . . All our Generals 
surrendered their shares to the troops.” 1 

The Prize Committee presented a golden ewer as 
souvenir to Sir Hope Grant, whereupon the men of the 
2nd Division said “ Our General shall have a present 
too ! ” and insisted on Napier’s acceptance of a beautiful 
bowl and cup of carved jade, with an inscription record¬ 
ing the circumstances of the gift. 2 * * 

On the 8th October Messrs. Parkes and Loch with 
M. d’Escaifrae de Lantour, a Sikh orderly and four 
French privates, all prisoners detained on the 18th 
were at last sent into the Allies’ camp. “ The delivery 
of these prisoners was the direct result of an intimation 
sent to the Chinese on the 7th October, that unless all 
prisoners still in their hands were delivered up immedi¬ 
ately, a gate of the city placed in our possession without 
opposition and competent persons deputed to conclude 
a peace, Pekin would be taken by assault. . . .” 8 

1 Greathed. 

2 Now in the possession of his son Colonel Lord Napier of Magdala, 

The inscription is cut stencil-wise on a thin plate of silver. 

8 Greathed, 



Compliance with the terms of the Allies being still 
evaded, the erection of batteries was commenced on 
the 10th, and a further communication of the terms 
on which Pekin would be spared was sent to Prince 
Kung on the same day. 

Careful reconnaissances were carried out under Sir 
R. Napier’s orders and all preparations made for the 
assault. On one occasion, wishing to ascertain the 
depth of the moat, Napier rode into the water. The 
Chinese soldiers crowding the wall levelled their muskets 
at him, to which he replied by calling out the one 
Chinese phrase he possessed: “ Poo-Fa ” (Don't be 
afraid!). And the enemy were either too much 
amused or too astonished to fire ! Captain C. G. 
Gordon was with him on this occasion, I think no one 

Saturday, the 13th October, at noon was the period 
fixed on for compliance with the Allies’ demands, and 
before that time the remaining surviving prisoners 
were sent in, as well as the coffins of those who had 
succumbed (with the exception of Captain Brabazon 
and the Abbe, whose bodies were not recovered). 
And at the last moment the An-ting Gate was sur¬ 
rendered and taken possession of by the 2nd Division, 
whose ensign was flown from the top of the massive 
four-storied keep. 

No further progress having been made with the 
negotiations, and the French Commander positively 
refusing to let his troops remain before Pekin beyond 
November 1, it became necessary to hasten matters to 
a conclusion. 

Upon the 17th October, a bitterly cold day, the 
British victims of Chinese barbarity were laid to rest 
in the Russian Cemetery and on the same day Lord 


Elgin, after consultation with Napier, addressed a 
strongly worded letter to the Prince of Kung, in which 
he was apprised that when Sir Hope Grant had stated 
the conditions on which Pekin would be spared, he 
wrote in the belief that our countrymen were in safety, 
as had been repeatedly stated by His Highness. 
Instead of which it was now ascertained that half the 
number captured had been tortured to death. Under 
the altered circumstances a necessary preliminary to 
peace would be the immediate payment of an indemnity 
(£100,000), for distribution to those who had suffered 
and to the families of those who had been murdered. 
Further, the Prince was informed “ that the Summer 
Palace, which had been partially plundered before the 
fate of the prisoners was known, would be entirely 
destroyed that its ruin might present a lasting mark 
of the abhorrence of the British Government at the 
violation of the law of nations which had been com¬ 
mitted. He was also told in case of a refusal to comply 
with the demands now made, the Imperial Palace 
would be captured, plundered and burnt.” 1 

Whilst the 1st Division under Sir John Michel with 
the Cavalry Brigade proceeded on the 18th October 
to Yuan-Ming-Yuan to effect the destruction of the 
forty houses constituting that beautiful residence, all 
preparations were pushed on for the effectual resump¬ 
tion of hostilities in case of need. 

The 2nd Division had been constantly at work, and 
as the batteries, etc., were completed, Sir H. Grant 
proposed to relieve the 2nd Division by the 1st, previous 
to the assault, but to this Sir R. Napier altogether 
objected, and said that as his division had done the 
work they should be assigned the place of honour, 

1 Greathed. 



especially as on every other occasion the 1st Division 
had always been pushed to the front, and were then 
actually away. This was at last accepted, and divi¬ 
sional orders of 19th October 1 defined the task 
instructed to the 2nd Division for the morrow. “ The 
attack was deferred 24 hours to afford the Chinese 
time to make up their mind to surrender the city into 
our hands without a struggle.” 3 

The delay had the desired effect, the Prince of Kung 
made his submission, the indemnity was paid and all 
arrangements completed for the signature of the Treaty 
on the 23rd and 24th October, within the city. 

It was arranged that the Treaty should be ratified in the 
Chinese Hall of Assembly, some three and a half miles off, 
in the very depth of the Tartar City. Rumours prevailed 
that somo dire act of treachery was intended against the 
Ambassador during the ceremony and that a large Tartar 
force was brought close up to the city on the side furthest 
removed from us, to aid in carrying this out. A reconnaissance 
shewed that there was actually a large force of Tartars on the 
South side of the city and much uneasiness prevailed on our 
side and that of the French. The French were to have gone 
in to sign on the 23rd, we on the 24th. On the 23rd, the 
French pronounced themselves not ready. Lord Elgin “ ex¬ 
pressed ” a desire to trust himself without any precautions. 
... I was consulted and scouted the idea of a blind reliance 
on the Chinese faith, and advocated most strongly every 
precaution. . . . The General held my view and I took in 
my whole division—after all, only a weak brigade—and made 
such a disposition of them that no assemblage of Chinese troops 
in the City could take place. Lord Elgin expressed his obliga¬ 
tions to me very warmly on his return. 3 

Napier has related a curious little incident relative 

1 Lumsden’s Journal. 3 Ibid. 

3 Napier to Baker, Letter dated October 26, 1860. 


to his preliminary survey of Pekin. When he first 
rode into the city, he called to a “ sort of lazzarone ” 
by the wayside to show the way to the Palace. By 
way of reply this beggar silently took up a loose tile, 
covered it with dust from the road, and in that dust 
rapidly sketched with his finger a plan of the route 
which he handed to the General. 

In a letter written to Admiral Hope on October 20 
Napier summed up some of his impressions of the 
campaign, the country and our Allies. The following 
extracts have some interest: 

. . . By this time to-day we should have been in the Imperial 
Palace in the city had not the submissive letter come in in time 
to arrest our movements. It is in some respects to bo regretted 
that wo have not taken possession of the said palace but we 
must accept what is for the best. The Reparation for the 
murder of our unfortunate prisoners is slight enough. £100,000 
and the punishment—the burning of a very beautiful summer 
residence consisting of about 40 houses placed in scenery 
very beautiful of its kind. . . . Had we not been hampered 
by our French Alliance we should have done much better. 
We remain here, it is said, until the 1st November, and then 
move back. ... I do not expect that we shall reach Tientsin 
until the 19th November. 1 This would have been a far better 
winter quarter, and under other circumstances I should have 
advocated our remaining here strongly. As it is, it is perhaps 
as well (we do not), for we required many prompt measures 
which the alliance and other impediments rendered difficult. 
The climate is really delightful though subject to sudden storms 
of bitter wind. The face of the country is very charming— 
a wilderness of little picturesque tombs and groves are bright¬ 
ened up by patches of ripe grain in the sheaf ; a fine range of 
hills with the lesser Chinese Wall crowning their heights is 
seen in a Northern distance. 

1 A force was to be left at Tientsin to enforce the execution of 
the Treaty. 


In a letter to his friend Baker, written on October 26, 
he says: 

I most sincerely hope that this is the last Gallic alliance 
that we shall have—it has been a most unfortunate one, and 
has hampered us in every way. ... I have found Montauban 
very civil and Divisional Generals very friendly. Colineau, 
the leader of the assault of the Malakoff, has always been my 
co-adjutor. . . . Their staff is in many respects better than 
ours, their system better ; their soldiers as material infinitely 
inferior. (Napier had a strong regard for General Colineau, 
who did not live to return to France.) 

. . . The more I see of the two armies, the more I admire 
the French administration and our superb material, which would, 
if made the most of, walk over the armies of any other people 
whom 1 have seen and trample them in the dust, though we 
have much to learn before our soldiers will be prepared to do 
all that they are capable of, All China shows decay, but they 
must have had some great men amongst them, and though I 
dislike them personally I must admit many admirable points 
about them. As Engineers on a grand scale they are entitled 
to my respect and I should much like to see all their works, 
In the Gate at Pekin we found a brass breach-loading cannon 
—the breach is screwed on ; they were very near the right 
thing. . . . The city wall is like the other defences we have 
seen, a barbarian design nobly executed . . . with a rampart 
sixty feet broad and thirty feet high. . . . We could have 
galloped a division of Horse Artillery guns all round the ram¬ 
parts and almost without check. 

On October 22 (which strikes one as premature) the 
heavy guns and ammunition were sent back to Tung- 
chow en route to Tientsin ,* the French Army marched 
on November 1 and the British soon followed. Lord 
Elgin, Mr. Bruce (the Envoy), and General Sir Hope 
Grant proceeded to Tientsin by water. Napier marched 
with his Division, quitting Pekin on November 7 and 
reaching Tientsin on the 12th. Six days later he and 


his Staff embarked at Taku in the Berenice, a ship of 
H.M.’s Indian Navy; so bitterly cold was the day 
that the sea spray as it dashed on the decks froze as 
it fell. 

Napier was greatly distressed by the absence of all 
provision for the shivering coolies who had been 
brought from warmer parts of China in a habitual 
summer clothing, and were now returning homewards 
in the Berenice. The ship sailed from the Peiho on 
the 19th, and after a rough passage reached Hong-Kong 
on the evening of the 27th. From this port he, on 
December 3, wrote his adieux to China in a letter to 
Mr. Wade as follows: 

We are now on board the Berenice and sail in ten minutes 
for Madras and bid adieux to the flowery land. Le role de 
la vie ne sejoue pas deux fois. We are not likely to see it again, 
but I shall remember with much kindness you and some others 
whose acquaintance I was so fortunate as to make there. 

As a result of this campaign Napier received a medal 
and two clasps; was thanked in Parliament and 
promoted Major-General on the 15th February, 1861, 
for Distinguished Service in the Field. 



Napier arrived at Madras from China on the 22nd 
December, 1860, and after a brief interval, returned 
to Calcutta from whence, just a year previously, he 
had superintended the equipment and embarkation 
of the troops for China. At that time General Sir 
Hope Grant, the Commander of the China Expedition¬ 
ary Force, had been the guest of Major-General 
Edward Scott, R.A., the Chief Ordnance Officer of 
Bengal, and Napier, in the course; of his duty to his 
Chief, had been in close attendance, and had conse¬ 
quently enjoyed many opportunities of sharing that 
hospitality. Now, on his return, the same offer of 
hospitality was extended to Napier in spite of the 
protest of General Scott’s eldest daughter Mary, that 
Six Robert Napier was now “ too great a swell ” to 
be invited. Mary was a lively and charming girl of 
eighteen, who, on the occasion of Sir Hope Grant’s 
visit, had recently arrived from school, and from 
visiting her relatives in Ireland. 

To her surprise, Napier, whom she regarded in the 
light of an heroic figure, and extremely unlikely to 
avail himself of her father’s invitation, accepted, in 
spite of “ bearing his blushing honours thick upon 
him,” fresh from his last campaign. Not only did 
the unexpected happen, but it soon became apparent 



where the chief attraction lay to account for suoh 
strange condescension. On April 2nd they were 
married, and so this branch of the ancient family 
of Napier became related to the Scotts, descendants 
of the Scottish King, John Balliol, who, after his 
expulsion from Scotland, was given by the King of 
England extensive lands in Kent, where he .became 
known among the local gentry as the Scot. His 
descendants inherited the land and adopted the name 
of Scott, and it was to this family, a cadet of which 
crossed over to Ireland, that Lady Napier belonged. 

Very shortly after his return from China, Napier 
was offered and accepted the post of Military Member 
of Council in succession to Sir James Outram. His 
position at Calcutta was now one of considerable 
importance, which involved the upkeep of a large 
establishment and entertaining on a generous scale. 
Lady Napier filled her new role with much grace and 
tact, although the presence of two grown-up step¬ 
daughters of about her own age cannot but have added 
to the difficulties of the situation. But this was no 
ordinary household, and the sweetness of disposition 
and charm of manner which prevailed on all sides 
soon won for Lady Napier the devoted affection of 
family and friends. 

The letter from Sir Charles Wood, 1 Secretary of 
State for India, offering Napier the appointment, 
informed him that great changes were to be made 
in the Indian Army. The local European Force was 
to be discontinued, and the Native Army, in conse¬ 
quence of the Mutiny, was to be reduced and re¬ 
organized. These measures, which had been for some 
time delayed, though distinct in themselves, were 
1 Later Viscount Halifax. 


now to be taken together under the nomenclature of 
“ Amalgamation.” 

It involved, inter alia, the reduction of Colonels’ 
allowances, the establishment of the Staff Corps and 
the adoption of the “ Irregular ” system of officering 
the Native Army. Colonel Baker at the India Office 
in London had evolved a plan to carry out the deter¬ 
mination of the Government, although he himself 
disapproved of it. 

Sir Charles Wood declared that, in a matter involving 
so many individual interests, the Government relied 
very much on Napier, that “ in the details, the Govern¬ 
ment of India and yourself will have much discretion 
to exercise, and the success of the measure, I feel, 
very much depends on the execution.” 

Napier set to work at once to carry out these in¬ 
structions. Lord Canning, who had been Governor- 
General since 1856, and now, since the abolition of 
the East India Company, Viceroy of India, was an 
old acquaintance, and had on many occasions expressed 
his warm approval of Napier’s work. That was so 
much to the good. The European local forces were 
abolished by decree of the Viceroy in April, 1861. 
This converted the three older European regiments 
in each Presidency into regiments of the Line numbered 
101st to 109th Regiments of Foot; the Bengal, 
Madras and Bombay Artillery were formed respectively 
into seven, four, and three brigades, eventually to 
become Royal Artillery, while the Engineer Corps 
of Bengal, Madras and Bombay were formed re¬ 
spectively into three, two and two battalions, eventually 
to become Royal Engineers. Also all officers of the 
cavalry and infantry of Indian troops were placed 
on two general lists of cavalry and infantry for each 


Presidency. At the instance of Sir Robert Napier, 
an Amalgamation Commission had been formed to 
work out the details of the scheme, and now submitted 
their report, which closed with the remarks that the 
re-organization of the Indian Army under Orders from 
Home “ will throw out of necessary employment 
about 1,000 officers ; that owing to the absorption 
of supernumeraries which is to take place, and to the 
establishment of a Staff Corps on an entirely new 
principle of promotion, the retirement of each officer 
not in the Staff Corps will cause a considerable saving 
to the State ...” and finally the Commission rejoiced 
in having been able, while basing their proposals 
solely on the advantage which it offered to the Govern¬ 
ment, to have submitted a scheme calculated to 
compensate to a great degree their brother officers 
for the destruction of their professional prospects. 

However, notwithstanding the fact that the Viceroy 
was in constant demi-official correspondence with 
Napier, and approved of the formation of the 
Commission, all was not plain sailing. Sir Charles 
Wood was vehemently opposed to the existence of 
a Commission which he considered unnecessary, to 
say the least of it, if only that it seemed to him 
derogatory to the character of tho Government for 
efficiency in itself. Napier replied to Sir Charles 
Wood’s strictures on the 1st May, 1861, in moderate 
terms, that a cursory or superficial perusal of the 
despatches would leave anyone under the impression 
that there remained nothing but to issue orders, 
but that, while admiring the ability with which they 
were drawn up in so complete a manner as they were, 
and grateful for many points showing a kind con¬ 
sideration of Indian officers, it was impossible that 


any set of instructions could have been framed in 
such detail in England for execution in India without 
some deficiencies, among which he especially notified 
the “ want of a definite and unmistakeable expression ” 
of Sir Charles Wood’s intentions regarding the regular 
and irregular systems for the Madras and Bombay 
armies. Napier continued: 

Under these circumstances it appeared to me that a Com¬ 
mission consisting of able officers , 1 well acquainted with, and 
possessing the confidence of the Army as well as of the Govern¬ 
ment, was the very best preliminary way of dealing with the 
question. The Commission at once gave complete satisfaction 
to the Army, and the best defence of our measures is the very 
great success which has attended them. The amalgamation, 
which was looked upon with so much anxiety and suspicion 
at first, has been received with an “ eclat ” of success. Nearly 
the whole of the soldiers have volunteered, and a very large 
body of officers. 

Sir Charles Wood, in reply, gladly admitted the 
success of Napier’s measures, and stated that if they 
were owing to the Commission, he must give up his 
objection, but he had been disposed to attribute the 
good part to the Government, Council, etc., and only 
a very small portion to the Commission. 

The important point about these two systems was 
that during the Mutiny regiments had been formed 
and had done excellent service with very few British 
officers per regiment, and these were irregulars. 
“ They were giants in those days,” and British officers 
who had gone through that experience and had realized 
what they, with good Native officers had been able 

1 These included Major Chesney, afterwards Sir George and 
Military Member of Council, Captain Eyre, afterwards Sir Vincent, 
a distinguished artillery officer, and Captain Malleson, the brilliant 
author of The History of the Indian Mutiny and other works. 


to perform, did not consider it necessary to have 
more than six British officers per regiment, whereas 
the regular system provided for many more, nominally 
twenty-five for an infantry regiment. 

It was therefore especially aggravating to find 
that the Government had still not made up its mind. 
In June of the same year, Napier, writing to Baker 
at the India Office privately, says: 

Lord Canning seems to be thoroughly cowed by the attack 
on the Commission and its instructions, and ready to repudiate 
them if he could do so. My opinion of him has fallen im¬ 
mensely. (And again later:) The vexation to me is that 
there is a vacillation of purpose which destroys one’s confi¬ 
dence. After all this, Lord Canning has not made up his mind 
whether the army should be regular or irregular. 

By October, 1861, the retiring scheme had been 
passed, and Napier writes to express his satisfaction, 
describing it as an inestimable boon to the Services, 
and one which will greatly relieve both them and 
the Government, whose reputation would have been 
seriously damaged had the old officers been left to 
encumber the Services. 

But the question of the two systems had still not 
been decided, and the irregular system was opposed 
by the Governors, both of Bombay and Madras. 
The controversy was finally put an end to by a Minute 
from the Honble. Sir R. Napier, K.C.B., dated 20th 
November, 1862, in the following terms: 

At the period of the amalgamation, the conversion of the 
Regular Native Army to a system assimilating to the Irregular 
Army was taken into consideration by this Government, and 
the Amalgamation Commission submitted a scheme for the 
salaries of the officers already determined by the Home 
Government, to oonsist of six in number. There were strong 


opinions entertained by many persons that it would be better 
not to make so radical a change just at the period of the 
reductions in the Native Army, and the amalgamation of the 
services, and the weight of these opinions prevented the 
measure from being then carried out. 

The general question has been submitted to His Excellency 
the Commander-in-Chief for his opinion. 

His Excellency has not offered any opinion on the question 
of allowances ; but after consulting various officers concludes 
by proposing an establishment of officers which is a near 
approach to the regular organization, since there would be a 
Commandant, an Adjutant, and a European Officer to each 

But as there could be no Native Officers, only Privates and 
Non-Commissioned Officers, the system would be a still 
nearer approach to the regiments of the Line than the old 
regular Native Army. 

His Excellency would provide for meritorious Native 
Soldiers by giving them commissions in certain speoial 

It may be briefly remarked that this experiment would 
be quite in the opposite direction to that which has been 
determined on by the Home Government. 

The special Regiments would require to be very numerous 
to give anything approaching to the same amount of encourage¬ 
ment to the deserving Native Soldiers, as will be given by the 
irregular system, and there would be repeated two classes of 
the Native Army, a Regular and an Irregular class : but 
according to the theory which considers European leading 
indispensable, these special regiments would not be considered 
of much value, except as a provision for the meritorious soldiers 
who would be promoted to Commissions from the Line. 

Without following this proposal further, it may be said that 
the number of six officers, already fixed on by the Home 
Government, has nowhere been shown to be insufficient for 
general service. 

Some officers have recorded opinions in favour of a larger 
number of Europeans than six, for Native Regiments, but the 
deduction to be drawn from the reports of officers who com- 


manded regiments in China, is that, except on board ship 
or in action, they were much embarrassed by the number of 
European Officers. 

In the records of actions of the British Indian Army, there 
is nothing to show that the regular cavalry with its numerous 
officers fought better than the irregulars ; the evidence goes 
the other way ! 

The service in China was most exceptional; the Native 
regiments were serving in a foreign country of which the 
language and people were quite unknown to them, and with 
allies equally foreign to them ; and any misunderstanding 
with whom would have been liable to lead to serious conse¬ 
quences. Under these circumstances it was more necessary 
to have European officers in command of detachments and out¬ 
posts than would be necessary in any ordinary service. 

For extraordinary service, additional officers could always 
be drawn from other regiments, which will possess six, but 
have hitherto done extremely well with three, in ordinary 
service, and even in difficult warfare. 

The question of the number of officers has been fully con¬ 
sidered and decided by Her Majesty’s Government, and the 
decision may be accepted as definitive. 

* * * * * 

In the meantime the regiments of the Bengal and Bombay 
armies that are deficient of the full complement of six officers 
might be filled up to that number at once, the Doing-Duty 
officers receiving the present authorized allowance. 

The Madras Government might be asked its views as to 
the period when the regiments of that Presidency can be 
placed on the new footing. 

It may be advisable to discontinue the word irregular in 
relation to the new regiments, as it will be scarcely applicable. 

Thus we see that Sir Robert Napier as Military 
Member of Council managed to make his views prevail 
in the face of opposition from the Secretary of State 
for India, the Commander-in-Chief in India and 
subsequently also from the Viceroy. The general 
instructions from home had been to replace the Regular 


System by the Irregular gradually, extending the 
conversion over a term of years. The recommenda¬ 
tion of the Amalgamation Commission was to carry 
it out at once, by means of a generous scheme for 
the voluntary retirement of a large number of officers 
who would become superfluous, as the essence of the 
conversion was the reduction of the complement of 
British officers serving with both Native Infantry 
and Cavalry regular regiments, from a number vary¬ 
ing actually between fourteen and four, although 
nominally twenty-five for a Native infantry regiment, 
to six officers all told. 

Sir Hugh Rose’s recommendation of October, 1861, 
supported by reports from various officers had been, 
to appoint all the officers of a Native regiment, British ; 
relegate the Native officers to a few special regiments 
officered exclusively by Natives, and all the rank and 
file to be Natives: “ Native Regiments with British 
Officers, and Native Non-Commissioned Officers and 
Men ; and a few Native Regiments officered exclusively 
by Native Officers.” 

Although there is something attractive in the 
simplicity of Sir Hugh Rose’s plan, it must be ac¬ 
knowledged that Lieut.-Colonel H. Norman, afterwards 
General Sir Henry Norman, in his original Memorandum 
from the Horse Guards of the 24th January, 1861, which 
formed the basis of the Home Government’s plan, and 
in his subsequent one of the 31st July, 1862, displayed 
a complete mastery of his subject, and a great capacity 
for organization and finance, while Sir Robert Napier 
was unrivalled in practical experience of Indian war¬ 
fare, and knowledge of the Native. The measures 
carried out at that time were therefore undoubtedly 
the best under the circumstances, and the fact that 



they remained unaltered for fifty years is the best 
proof of their value. 

In view of the controversy which arose many years 
later between Lords Curzon and Kitchener, on the 
subject of the existence of the Military Member of 
the Viceroy’s Council, and which resulted in the 
abolition of that post, not the least interesting point 
of the above correspondence is the relationship at 
that time of the Military Member of Council to the 
Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief. As has been 
mentioned, in this particular instance, Napier had 
his own way in opposition to the views both of the 
Commander-in-Chief in India, and of the Secretary 
of State for India, with the very half-hearted consent 
of the Viceroy. But later on, it will be seen that 
when he was himself offered the post of Commander- 
in-Chief, he declined to accept it unless it carried with 
it, as had not been the case hitherto, a seat on the 
Viceroy’s Council, and he in his turn as Commander- 
in-Chief much resented any interference by the Military 
Member of Council. 

Napier’s duties were, however, by no means confined 
to military questions. The following extracts from 
letters written by him to his friend Sir William Baker, 
a member of the Indian Council in London, will best 
show the multifarious nature of his work, and its 
great importance to the State : 

3rd Jany. (1862 ?). 

In your letter of the 26th Nov. you say “ there are rumours 
of your having startled the civil member of Government by 
taking an unexpected line on some question of civil adminis¬ 
tration connected with mixed juries of natives and Europeans ! ” 
I remember no case connected with that subject. ... I 
think the case to which you must refer is that of making natives 


Justices of the Peace, and it requires explanation. You will 
remember the outcry in India against what was called the 
black act, and that that measure was abandoned. It would 
have put Europeans in the power of the mofussil Courts, and 
the most jealously guarded privilege of the Europeans in India 
is that they must be tried by a Jury of their Countrymen 
and the Supreme Court for all Capital offences. Any attempt 
to alter that privilege raises a storm of popular fury amongst 
the European non-official community of India. 

It is the desire of Erere, and I conclude Lord Canning’s 
desire, to make Native Justices of the Peace, which will give 
them power to commit Europeans and send them for trial 
to the Supreme Courts. For instance, one of the proposed 
Justices of the Peace at Peshawar might commit an European 
and send him to Calcutta in June. 

When the question came before me, I gave my opinion in 
a Minute which I requested might be sent Home with any 
despatch to the Secretary of State that recommended the 
establishment of an Order rendering Natives eligible to be 
made Justices of the Peace. It appears to have put a stop 
to the progress of the question here, for no despatch has been 
written from the Council, though what private communica¬ 
tion may have been made to the Secretary of State, I cannot 
say. I gave ray opinion in the Constitutional way, have 
confined it entirely to the Minute in question, and was actuated 
by a sincere conviction that the measure besides being danger¬ 
ous in time of war, would raise a storm of unpopularity against 
the Government that would damage it seriously. ... I 
really do not know what else I could have done. I am curious 
to know who are the civil members who have made civil 
administration the business of their lives. There are here 
Frere—he has been an administrator and a most honoured 
and successful one, but as regards special knowledge, I do 
not think he knows more of Indian history than I do, and 
his knowledge of natives does not go above Sindh. I think 
I have had a closer connection with natives of all classes in 
a more varied sphere than he has—there is the Secretary 
Grey who was an idle griffin at Darjeeling when I had had 
10 years’ close intercourse with natives. His experience is 



not of anything out of Calcutta, and is confined to the Secre¬ 
tariat. I. P. G. has made civil administration the business 
of his life, but he has made a bad business of it at laBt—a 
good Punjab Deputy Commissioner would quiet Bengal in 
a month. In such general questions as the one I have ex¬ 
plained to you, I cannot think that I am less capable of form¬ 
ing an opinion than they are, and I feel sure you will see that 
I took the proper way to express it. I assure you I believe 
the measure would be far the most unpopular act of Lord 
C.’s Government, and would far outweigh any good one- 
even the Sale of Lands Act in the opinion of the European 
Community. . . . 

In the above letter Napier quotes two other instances 
in which, though he did not agree with Lord Canning 
and the Council, he refrained from expressing his 
conviction that Government “ would really be acting 
on a wrong principle, because I saw that the Governor- 
General was entirely bent on the measure, and that 
there must be some yielding to let the machine 
go on.” 

In his next letter to Baker, six days later, he says : 
“ I trust the account I gave you of the J.P. question 
satisfied you that I did not thoughtlessly oppose the 
other members of Government.” 

Feb. mh (1862 ?). 

Do not be alarmed about the Eastern frontier; there has 
been bad management, as there has been in all Bengal, but 
nothing to be alarmed at. Mr. G-and his party are mak¬ 

ing the utmost, in order to charge against the Supreme 
Government the reduction of troops, of petty frontier dis¬ 
turbances, which the police, which they ought to have raised, 
would have prevented. The Copyahs are rather more serious 
than the Assamese but are, after all, contemptible. There 
must be something wrong in their treatment, but we have 
not been yet informed of it. Col. Richardson with small 
detachments has taken some stockades with the loss of two 


sipahis wounded! Two extra regiments have been sent 
Eastwards, but I am convinced a thorough alteration in the 
frontier management is wanted. 

Lord C. does not, I think, admit this. It is easy to put 
down petty risings with the bayonet, but all our Eastern 
frontier is not a bit advanced since we came to the country 
100 years ago. The Bhutanese threatenings at any rate are 
not owing to reduction of troops, for Darjeeling has more 
troops than ever it had in former years, but owing to the 
injudicious and ill-explained confiscation of a small revenue 
of 2,000 rupees which they drew from within our frontier. . , . 

About this time, there was a change of Viceroys 
and Napier writes to Baker: 

May 9th, 1862. 

In the Budget reductions it was proposed to reduce the 
strength of European Cavalry Regiments instead of the 
injurious plan of reducing one of the newly raised corps ; 
and it was also proposed to reduce one of the 19 Bengal Native 
Cavalry Regiments which we had recently published to be the 
present complement. I opposed this strongly. Lord Canning 
never would hear of it, though Mr. Laing, urged by Balfour, 
constantly tried it. As soon as Lord Elgin came, Mr. Laing 
again brought this forward, and I was outvoted in Council. 
I quoted Lord Canning’s strong words against it, but Erere 
deserted me, and it was carried against me. 

I think I am getting on pretty well with Lord Elgin. , . . 
I do not think Lord Canning gave me a very good character, 
or forgave the Justice of the Peace Minute which has never 
seen the light since, but we parted cordially. As soon as he 
went, I got Showers put in Political as well as Military charge 
of the E. Frontier, which Lord Canning would never have 
consented to. He puts me in mind of James 1st in his fear 
of blood-letting, but it will be necessary to punish these 
Assam hill marauders properly, first, and then follow up with 
measures of conciliation. The whole Eastern Frontier is a 
disgrace to us. . , . 



At the beginning of 1863, Napier was appointed 
to be President in Council as is apparent from Sir 
W. Baker’s letter of 26th February, 1863, in which 
he congratulates Napier “ on the assumption of the 
high office of President in Council. It is a place of 
great responsibility which I am happy to see so worthily 
filled, and I only wish that the increased weight of 
office were counterpoised by an augmented ‘ tali ’ of 
rupees.” There had been rumours in India of the 
approaching resignation of Sir Hugh Rose from the 
post of Commander-in-Chief, and the possible appoint¬ 
ment of Napier in his place, which had distressed 
the latter, owing to the differences of opinion which 
he had voiced between the Government of India and 
the Commander-in-Chief, and he had evidently referred 
to it in a previous letter to his friend. Now Baker 

I cannot understand how the rumour of your succession to 
Sir Hugh Rose assumed such a substantive form. For my 
own part, I must say that I am not aware of any foundation 
for it in high quarters here, and in fact I had heard nothing 
of it until it came back from India. It was known here that 
all the authorities, including the Horse Guards, agreed with 
the Government of India in the serious controversies that had 
arisen between them and the Commander-in-Chief, and some 
people may have thought it probable that Sir Hugh Rose 



might take offence and resign, (which he probably would, 
if the position had not been so good) but, so far as I am aware, 
this contingency was not so seriously contemplated as to 
render it necessary to think of a successor. 

Baker opines that in any case the promotion would 
fall to a Queen’s officer, and regrets the rumour, 
which, though personally complimentary to Napier, 
might be liable to misconstruction : “I trust and 
believe, however, that your character stands so high 
as to be above such unworthy suspicions.” 

By the month of May, Napier found the duties of 
President had become a little more irksome than 
they were at first, owing to the activities of the new 
Financial Member, Sir Charles Trevelyan. 

Anxious to make a name for himself, his endeavours 
were directed to showing a surplus and reducing 
taxation. In the absence of Lord Elgin, the new 
Viceroy, from Council, Napier held the Legislative 
Council, and somo of Trevelyan’s proposals were 
passed, although Napier did not personally approve 
of them, and resisted a cutting down of Public Works. 
Napier writes : 

Of course as each case comes to light, it is turned over in 
Council and brought to order, but he (Trevelyan) is very slow 
in understanding the limit of his authority. In the Public 
Works I have had to make him cancel and reverse some 
resolutions made in my name, without reference having been 
made to me previously. These things cause additional trouble, 
but on the whole we have got on very well personally. . . . 
It is a great pity that so much good as Trevelyan’s well-directed 
efforts might achieve, should be in danger of being lost through 
Vis way of doing it. or trying to do it. 

With regard to affairs on the Eastern Frontier, 
referred to in the last chapter, the advent of Genera] 


Showers met with success. There was no real fighting, 
the losses in carrying stockades were insignificant, 
and the work should have been done by police, but 
the Bengal Government had allowed the country to 
be ill governed, and though they had plenty of military 
police, they attributed the disturbances to the reduc¬ 
tion of troops, which only amounted to 1,100 men. 
Napier remarks that Bengal civilians are totally 
unfitted to manage wild tribes, and that the whole 
Eastern Provinces required one or two good politicals j 1 
“ Even one Commissioner with full powers and money 
to spend in roads and steamers, would soon make 
a difference. The Hill districts should be completely 
occupied, and brought into relations with the Govern¬ 
ment, and roads and schools introduced among them. 
The sale of tea lands would soon pay for them.” 

Dealings with the Commander-in-Chief also gave 
Napier a good deal of trouble. Though he praised 
Sir Hugh Rose’s prompt suppression of insubordina¬ 
tion of the newly attested Artillerymen, he remarked 
that the Commander-in-Chief was very impatient at 
the control of the Government, and tried in every 
way to extend his powers, so that it required great 
care “ to prevent his getting what he could not be 
allowed, powers creative of expense, and to still keep 
the correspondence courteous and considerate.” 

The current business of the military department 
was very heavy, and Napier was not able to go to 
rest with a table cleared of work. He was much 
interested in the health and sanitation arrangements 
for the army, but for the sake of economy, had to 
refuse several useful proposals. Then he finds that 
money can always be given for civil expenditure, 
1 These were usually British officers in civil employ. 


for a church or a museum. But Lord Elgin thinks 
military expenditure the most useless of all, and 
that view meets the popular cry both in India and at 
Home. He resolves to wait until the following year 
when it will be time for him to press for attention 
to military needs. Meanwhile, it is mooted from 
several quarters that Napier may be offered the post 
of Lieut.-Governor of the Punjab. The actual 
incumbent, his friend Sir Robert Montgomery, hopes 
this may be so. Napier does not know how he would 
like it until he is asked, but does not think there is 
any chance of that occurring: “ Lord Elgin would 
gain nothing by giving it to me. I have always 
looked on Edwardes as the legitimate Lieut.- 
Governor. I asked Grey not to mention the idea, 
as I dislike being discussed. ‘ The Friend of India 5 
has long pronounced Durand the proper man.” 

Again Napier is out of humour with the position 
of President in Council, “ which has not power equal 
to its duties. Lord Elgin, too, did not support the 
policy that he wished to have carried out with a 
firm and consistent tone. There was so much what 
I might call intrigue in Trevelyan’s conduct in order 
to gain his point (I suppose it is only political manage¬ 
ment), that I was disgusted at his obtaining his object 
of reducing taxes, and having an opportunity to 
publish his own theories as the voice of the Govern¬ 

The question in point was the abandonment of 
the Government manufacture of salt, and after a long 
and acrimonious correspondence it was finally closed 
by a Minute by Major-General the Honble, Sir R. 
Napier, K.C.B., dated 10th February, 1864, which 
ended thus: 


The authority of the Supreme Government, which has been 
entrusted by the Governor-General to the keeping of the 
President in Council, was infringed by the Lt.-Govemor’s action 
in abolishing a source of Imperial revenue, and it became 
the duty of the Council to vindicate it. Instead of supporting 
the Council, our Honble. Colleague, Sir Charles Trevelyan, 
incited the Lt.-Governor to impugn our proceedings. 

The whole matter was really a question of discipline 
in the Council Sir Charles Trevelyan was taken to 
task for assuming to do, and taking the whole credit 
of doing that which ought to have been the act of 
the Government collectively, and which Government 
was prepared to do. 

In the midst of all these labours, Napier found 
time to visit the Andaman Islands where is a penal 
settlement, situated some 800 miles to the south of 
Calcutta. In October, 1863, accompanied by the 
Deputy Quartermaster-General, he subjected the settle¬ 
ment to a very minute inspection. This was in 
consequence of a fracas which had occurred between 
one of the aborigines and a European, leading to the 
death of the latter, and a general embroilment, which 
had so much alarmed the Commandant, as to induce 
him to ask for reinforcements, and even to arm some 
of his convicts against an attack by the aborigines. 
Napier opined that the convicts would prove much 
more dangerous to the Commandant than all the 
aborigines, and approved of the efforts made by a 
Missionary to promote intercourse with the latter. 

In his report Napier remarked for the guidance of 
the Superintendent of Port Blair, the Capital of the 
Islands, that he had been greatly struck by the dirty 
and miserable appearance of the convicts, and the 
lack of efficient shelter for them. It was also highly 


detrimental to the morale of the troops that they 
should be placed on the same level as the convicts 
in the matter of hospital and barrack accommodation. 
He warmly praised the Missionary, Mr. Corbyn, for 
his treatment of the aborigines which had engendered 
in them a friendly feeling instead of their notorious 
cruelty, recommended a Government grant in aid 
of a Home for the Andamans, presumably started 
by Mr. Corbyn, and expressed a hope that “ in time 
these island wreckers would forbear (to harm), if not 
aid, the crews of ship-wrecked vessels.” 

In this way. Port Blair and all its inhabitants 
benefited from Napier’s visit, which was due, as a 
letter to Lord Elgin shows, to his having temporarily 
taken over the duties of the Members of the Home 
and Foreign Departments in addition to his own, 
during their absence from Calcutta. 

Towards the close of 1863, Lord Elgin was taken 
seriously ill just as affairs on the North-West Frontier 
were in great disorder. Sir Robert Montgomery, 
Lieut.-Governor of the Punjab, who had initiated 
the Umbeyla campaign was now very apprehensive 
of a general rising of the tribes. Napier, in a letter to 
Sir Charles Wood thus describes the situation at the 
beginning of December, 1863: 

The information which I sent you by last mail will have 
prepared you for the sad event of the death of Lord Elgin. 
His Lordship never appears to have rallied after his second 
attack, but remained conscious at the last. I have kept Sir 
W. Denison constantly informed of Lord Elgin’s condition, 
and a steamer has been waiting at Madras for him for a few 

In addition to the general loss which the country sustains, 
the special affairs of the frontier were in a critical position 
just as Lord Elgin ceased to be able to give orders. General 


Chamberlain’s expedition had come to a dead-look on the 
Umbeyla Pass owing to a much greater amount of opposition 
than was anticipated, and as all the reserves of the Upper 
Punjab were with Chamberlain, no reinforcements were 
available for him, to enable him to act more vigorously. In 
consequence ho has remained on the top of the Pass, sustaining 
repeated attacks from the Hill tribes who have adopted the 
quarrel of the Hindustanis, and though repelling them with 
loss, yet not without a serious loss of men and officers himself. 

The first and most important point appeared to me to 
move up such troops in support as would prevent any extension 
of the movement amongst our subjects, and enable me to 
give Chamberlain the aid which he seemed certain to require. 
As soon as I became aware that no orders wore being issued 
by the Governor-General, I directed attention to this point. 
The original intention of the expedition cannot be carried out. 
We are not prepared for, nor are we desirous of invading 
Swat, Bonair or Bajaur, the countries of the tribes opposed 
to us ; and we arc reduced to the alternatives, to stand fast 
and fight all comers till they are tired, or to take the first good 
opportunity to withdraw to the plains. I have requested 
the Commandcr-in-Chiof to favour us with his opinion as to 
the best course to follow, intimating the desire of the Govern¬ 
ment to withdraw the force from the hill as soon as it can be 
done with Bafcty. . . . 

During this difficult period, it is clear that Napier 
controlled affairs with great judgment. Ho tele¬ 
graphed to Sir R. Montgomery to calm his fears of 
a tribal rising, of which there were no signs and no 
danger, now that reinforcements had been sent to 
the Upper Punjab. At the same time with the 
approaching arrival of a temporary Viceroy, with the 
pronouncement of the Lieut.-Governor that the whole 
frontier was about to be convulsed, and with Chamber- 
lain in difficulties, the plan of holding a Legislative 
Council at Lahore as Lord Elgin had intended, seemed 
no longer advisable. The troops which had assembled 


there, no longer for exercise, but for defence and 
war, were not a suitable backing for the pacific char¬ 
acter of a Legislative assembly. Accordingly, when 
the Foreign Secretary took it upon himself to tele¬ 
graph to Sir Charles Wood and Sir W. Denison about 
the Council going to Lahore, “ without remembering 
that there was still a Government in Calcutta, although 
Lord Elgin could no longer attend to business,” 
Napier at once ordered the Council to assemble at 
Calcutta, although to him personally the change was 
a disappointment. Thus Napier was prompt in assert¬ 
ing his authority as President in Council at a most 
important crisis. 

In writing to Baker at this time, Napier opines 
that the hasty appointment of Sir John Lawrence 
as Viceroy and the order for him to go immediately 
to Lahore was due in some degree “ to the exaggerated 
accounts of the danger of general disturbance which 
went Home, and wore pressed upon us with all the 
authority of Montgomery and Norman,” although 
everything was then quiet, and the troops returning 
to quarters. He continues : 

Had Lord Elgin had his Council to consult, and consulted 
it, this stupid business of Umbeyla would never have happened ; 
the Sittana people would have been settled last year by one 
brigade. However Lawrence is not likely to be misled as 
a new praefeot would be, but he has some opinions about the 
frontier that I think would prove very disastrous if carried 
out now. , . . 

I feel much more sorry for Lord Elgin than I should have 
thought, and the feeling is enhanced from meeting Lady 
Elgin, and learning from her and the private Secretary Mr. 
Thurlow, the entire confidence Lord Elgin had in my manage¬ 
ment of affairs here. During the last few days of his life, 
he sent me a message about the care of Lady Elgin, and was 


very anxious to get my answer. As soon as lie received it, 
and the assurance that I should consider it a sacred duty to 
do all that he could desire for Lady Elgin, he smiled, and all 
anxiety for her ceased. I have endeavoured to fulfil in every 
way in my power that promise, and as the last point, hearing 
that Lady Elgin would be very poorly provided for, the 
Members of his Council drew up a confidential memorandum 
suggesting to the Secretary of State that a provision for her 
could with propriety be charged to the revenues of India. 
We did not venture to suggest any amount, but merely con¬ 
veyed our opinion as to some provision. That was perhaps 
an unusual step, but Sir C. Wood may have scruples, on 
account of the relationship, to initiate it, and this would give 
the ground for doing so ; but I shall cheerfully take the 
responsibility, if we have done anything wrong, for the sake 
of the poor widow, whose bereavement is very great. . . . 

God bless you, ever my dear friend. 

Napier continued at his post in the Council during 
1864, and nothing of importance is recorded except 
that in regard to the distribution of troops, there 
was a slight divergence of view between the Governor- 
General and the Coinmander-in-Chief and the Council. 

The Governor-General for sanitary reasons looked 
to sending large portions of regiments to the Hills 
during the summer months. On the other hand the 
Commander-in-Chief viewed with dismay the breaking 
up of companies and the disturbance of the regularity 
of regimental economy, and would have preferred to 
send whole units to the Hills, even if Delhi, Gwalior 
and Lahore were abandoned. The Council was obliged 
to look also to holding the country. Napier therefore 
advocated the establishment of Depots in the Hills, 
to be connected by railways to the trunk lines, and 
thus initiated the present system. 

Napier also vigorously opposed all reductions of 
European troops and did not agree with Sir John 


Lawrence’s opinion that one province formed the 
reserve of another. Napier remarked : 

The authorities of each Province reduce their statements 
of military wants to the minimum for keeping order in their 
own territories to save themselves from military charges. 
Each looks to support in emergency from some other place ; 
but as all go much in the same direction, in a time of emergency, 
with one or two things on our hands at once, it will not be 
easy for provinces to support their neighbours, if we diminish 
our forces as the financiers would do. Trevelyan actually 
asserted that the Native army did not want the support of 
artillery and that the portion allotted to them ought to be 
struck out 1 Mr. Laing gravely proposed to have the Madras 
Army without any cavalry at all ! The opium transactions 
by a fractional increase or diminution of prices, by the stroke 
of a pen, play with sums which at once cover or swallow up 
our army reductions. . . . Frere’s public works swallow up 
10 laks at a breath. All this is very well, but our solid military 
power is the only basis from which our administrators can 

Further correspondence shows that Napier continued 
his unequal struggle against the Finance Department 
and the Viceroy during 1864, that in the case of 
reductions in the Madras artillery, he pointed out 
that Sir W. Denison, the Governor of Madras, had 
declared they would then have two guns per thousand 
men. “ That is the proportion of seventy years 
ago,” says Napier. “ Four guns per 1,000 men in 
the field and three for the whole force is not a bit 
too much now. In action we have constantly had 
more. With small forces six guns per 1,000 men is 
constantly the proportion.” And again: “ It is 

proposed to abolish all our local manufactories and 
Supply Establishments, and to get everything from 
Home—a measure that may, in case of a naval war. 


leave us in the greatest embarrassment for a paltry 
saving, whilst most extravagant salaries are given 
to the Finance department, young lads coming in on 
400 rupees a month. I can only oppose a steady 
resistance, which, if it does not prevent some things, may 
help to stave off others, and make them more difficult.” 

Napier’s very sound views on the value of artillery 
were constantly shown in his own actions, and must 
have been in advance of his time. The Great War of 
fifty years later also showed in a lurid light, not only 
the value of artillery, but also that of local Supply 

In October Napier writes: 

Sir John (Lawrence) goes down (from Simla) to-morrow. 
I go via Mussoorie on the 12th, and pay a visit to Roorkhi 
to see what Crofton is doing for the Ganges Canal. I am 
entirely opposed to a second canal, and am in favour of com¬ 
pleting and improving the original work ; and by having local 
knowledge, I may be of use when the question comes on. 
I propose also thoroughly to investigate the Stud Department 
at Ghazipoor. My report on Port Blair last year, has, I believe, 
done a great deal of good. 

The above few lines afford a glimpse of Napier’s 
energy and versatility in his devotion to duty. Besides 
being an expert on canals, he was a very excellent 
judge of a horse, while his report on Port Blair as 
the result of his visit to the Andaman islands, already 
referred to, has shown his qualities as a Governor 
and administrator. 

The following letter, written on the 23rd of December 
to Colonel Baker foreshadows his appointment to the 
Bombay Command: 

. . . You last told me that the Duke of Cambridge objected 
to me on the ground of my being an Engineer. My letter tc 


you on the subject will have relieved you of any fear of my 
having been disappointed. I was very careful to observe 
your caution, and communicated the matter to no one, but 
from other sources, it was known to several people in Calcutta, 
from whom I heard it. It was, of course, impossible to say 
I had not heard of it, but I have been as reserved as possible. 
Before I got your letter, I heard of the Duke of Cambridge’s 
reason, which amused me when I also heard that he wished 
Hope Grant to be Commander-in-Chief here—poor Grant, 
whom I so often helped out of the mud in China. My feeling 
is to prefer remaining the short year now left to me here, 
distasteful as it is to work with Lawrence, rather than open 
a new career : but to prefer the change to Bombay if Mansfield 
is to be Minister of War, as of course I could not remain in 
Council under such circumstances. 

If the appointment should be offered me with the option 
of a short leave in England, I should accept it for the sake of 
the kind spirits of those who offered it, or caused it to be 
offered, and for the sake of the Service, both our branch and 
the Indian Service generally. But if the contents of my last 
letter should have led you not to press Sir Charles Wood on 
the subject, or should the Dube have proved inexorable, I 
shall be quite content to stay here, trying to realize my small 
fortune of 50,000 rupees, and endeavouring to get on smoothly 
with Lawrence, which is very difficult without perfect sub¬ 
mission or flattery, particularly the last, for which he has an 
amazing appetite. . . . 

It cannot be denied that the bitter note in this 
letter was characteristic of the feeling which Napier 
entertained for Sir John Lawrence throughout his 
life—a feeling apparently not shared by Sir John in 
anything like the same degree. It dated from early 
days in the Punjab when the affairs of that Province 
were administered by the Lawrence brothers, Henry 
and John, two men of widely different temperaments 
and divergent views, between whom there was con¬ 
stant friction for some years until both men simultane- 


ously tendered their resignation. Henry was moved 
elsewhere and John remained to rule the Province. 
During this period Napier’s sympathies were whole¬ 
heartedly with Henry. Indeed, Henry was one of 
Napier’s dearest friends and remained so till death. 
At the same time John, in his zeal for economy, 
which was no less inspired by a sense of duty than 
was Napier’s lavishness, appeared to Napier to be 
making constant attempts to hinder him in the execu¬ 
tion of the important engineering works on which 
he was engaged, and on which the development of 
the Province depended. 

It was perhaps natural that bitterness should be 
felt rather by the subordinate than the superior, but, 
although they shared many qualities in their love 
of work, their hatred of ostentation, devotion to duty 
and independent character, there were also too many 
points of divergence to admit of'their being friends. 
The following letter to Baker is given here, not in a 
spirit of partizanship, but in order to complete the 
picture of Napier’s character, show his point of view, 
and perhaps betray the existence of prejudice in one 
who was usually free from most human weaknesses: 

January 9th (1805). 

I wrote you a short letter by the Bombay mail, and add 
a line to say that I wrote to the Duke of Cambridge and 
Sir Charles Wood accepting the appointment, I hope in such 
terms as shewed a due appreciation of the honor conferred 
upon me. You know exactly what my views were, had I 
been uninfluenced by other considerations, but I place much 
confidence in your wish that I should accept it, as I am sure 
you can judge on many points better than I can. Besides 
the trouble taken by Sir C. Wood and other members of the 
Council to get the appointment from the Horse Guards, and 
for the sake of the Corps, I differ on so many points with 


Lawrence that I am glad on that account to get away, for 
people cannot go on differing on points of justice and right 
very long without personal feeling coming into play. I 
would rather not be in the way of any collision with him. 
I find him like the Legitimist “ he has learnt nothing and 
forgotten nothing,” 1 just the same obstinacy in little things 
-—refusing little army expenses and expensive in directions 
not, I think, so legitimate, in the Exeter Hall line. Open to 
influence of anyone that will flatter and fawn upon him— 
any of his old barnacles—disregarding sometimes his Council 
and resting opinions on Memos, written at his request by his 
personal staff, his doctor or some adherent, so that I think 
it well to avoid this last year with him, and part on friendly 
terms. The goodwill I feel for Lady Lawrence makes me 
glad that this may be. So I have now accepted frankly the 
Bombay appointment, and shall in all respects act up to that 
acceptance in word and deed. 

Napier had been strongly advised by his friend 
Baker to go home and see the Duke himself. He 
did so, but not until his appointment had already 
been confirmed by the Duke who gave way to the 
strong recommendations made in Napier’s favour. 
Besides the prejudice against an Engineer, there was 
also the feeling at the Horse Guards that an Indian 
officer would not “ maintain the discipline of Queen’s 
troops at the same standard as an officer bred up in 
their own severer school,” as Sir C. Wood informed 
Napier when acquainting him with his appointment. 
“ I have told the Duke that I felt certain you would 
not fail in this respect, having, indeed been twice in 
command of English troops. ...” 

On his arrival home, half an hour’s interview with 
the Duke sufficed to remove his prejudices, and to 
win for Napier a lifelong friend. 

1 A phrase attributed to Talleyrand about' the Legitimists, a 
party in France who supported the claims of the elder branch of 
the Bourbon family. 



Sir Robert Napier went to England in March, 1865, 
and remained on leave several months during which 
period he again visited the continent, and did not 
fail to examine anything that might be of use to 
him in his career as an engineer. Thus among his 
papers are found some notes on the Mont Cenis tunnel 
which was under construction between 1861 and 1870. 
His rough sketch shows the state of the works, and 
the difference of level between the French and Italian 
ends of the tunnel. There is also a description of the 
air-compressing machinery which worked the boring 
as well as the supply of air to the workmen, and was 
considered by him as a model of simplicity and 

On his return to India to take up the command of 
the Bombay army, Sir Hope Grant, now Quartermaster- 
General at the Horse Guards, writes to congratulate 
him and says: “Of course you will have heard of 
poor Lord Palmerston’s death, and Lord Russell 
having succeeded to the Premiership. People say 
and feel the day of the latter has gone by, but the 
Queen was right in appointing him, as the Cabinet 
would have fallen to pieces under the management of 
Gladstone who is very unpopular with many.” 

The next letter of interest is from Sir John Law- 



rence, now Viceroy of India, dated December 11, 1865, 
in which he is glad to learn that Napier has arrived 
safely in Bombay, and thanks him for having been to 
see his boys at home, 

Napier did not waste time in taking up the reins of 
office as the following letters to the Commander-in- 
Chief and to the Secretary of State for India show, 
written a few weeks after his arrival: 

To II.R.II. the Duke of Cambridge: 

I beg leave to avail myself of the kind permission given to 
me to address Your Royal Highness on two or three subjects 
which I trust will not appear intrusive. 

Army Reductions ! There is now no correspondence before 
the Bombay Government on this subject, all references from 
the Government of India having been answered in October 
last. But I have carefully read the correspondence on record, 
and I can only repeat the opinion which I have already placed 
on record, that I consider any further reductions of the Army 
at present highly inexpedient, even under the pecuniary 
pressure which is urged as the ground for demanding it. I 
find that this was the deliberate and forcibly expressed opinion 
of the Government of Bombay and the Commander-in-Chief 
of this Army in 1864, 1 expressed as follows: “ It appears that 
there never was a time when the strength of the Army, com¬ 
pared to the extent of territory which it holds, was so small 
as at present.” Sir William Mansfield states in a letter to 
the Secretary to Government No. 337 dated 27th Feb. 1864 : 
“ The numerical strength of the artillery on the rolls of the 
Bombay Army is very slightly in excess of what it was in 
1866 (before the Mutiny). 

“ It would appear to be necessary with regard to the extra¬ 
ordinary limit of reduction to which the Native Forces have 
been brought down, and with respect to the vast area held 
by the Anglo-Indian armies, that a considerable reserve of 
artillery should be maintained on Imperial account to meet 

1 Sir William Mansfield. 


any possible contingency that might arise, either in our Foreign 
relations, or our domestic affairs. In an Indian Army it is 
not prudent to calculate the number of Field guns at less 
than four per thousand men, In addition to this there must 
be a reserve of artillery for a siege train.” He would leave 
it to the Higher Authorities to decide on the prudence of denud¬ 
ing India of a reserve in that particular arm which compensates 
in the Field for smaller numerical forces—it being well known 
that all our battles are fought against superior numbers. I 
must say that I entirely agree with the Governor and Sir 
William Mansfield in 1864, and I trust that the extensive 
artillery reductions recently proposed will not be seriously 
contemplated. . . . 

Barrack accommodation! The recent orders under the 
advice of the Sanitary Commission prescribe 90 superficial 
feet per man for each soldier in barracks, and this has thrown 
a considerable number of men out of barracks and into tents. 
There is little prospect of their having barrack accommodation 
before the rains. The men would therefore be in tents during 
the hot weather, which would be a great trial and would 
probably injure them as much as the barrack crowding. I 
have therefore obtained the consent of the Governor to march 
up all the men who would otherwise have to pass the hot 
weather in tents from Poona to Mahableshwar, where they 
may enjoy a temperate climate until their barracks are ready. 
. . . I am sure Your Royal Highness will approve of this 
measure. . . . 

I have been fully occupied since my arrival in disposing 
of business at Head Quarters, but hope, in the course of the 
next three months, to make an inspection of all the stations 
South of Mhow. 

To Sir Charles Wood, Napier writes in much the 
same strain: 

I have read all the correspondence on army reductions 
that took place in 1864 and 1865. The subject is so ably 
argued by Sir Bartle Frere in his Minute of 1864, and Sir 
William Mansfield’s Minute of the same date, and his letter 
No. 337 of which I send you a copy for easy reference, that 


I can add but little. I must say I prefer greatly Sir William 
of 1864 to Sir William of 18G5. 1 

The following letter to Sir Bartle Frere ushers in a 
question that has greatly perturbed the rulers of India 
during the last fifty years, and is probably destined 
to continue to do so in the future, viz. the approach 
of Russia towards the Indian Frontier: 

Mahableshwar, June 2nd, 1866. 

The news of the capture of Samarkand was only what we 
ought to have expected. It is certain Russia never relaxed 
in her intentions ; and, having got rid of her domestic troubles, 
having crushed the Circassians and Poles, and being shut out 
of Turkey, she has turned her attention to Central Asia, for 
which she has been for years quietly preparing her base of 
operations. I do not know any way in which we could have 
prevented it, or that we ought to have prevented it,—perhaps 
by increasing our influences in Persia, and our communication 
with Bokhara, we might have checked the Russians in flank, 
but all our experiences of Central Asia were most unpromising. 
Whether we might have done more in Tartary with advantage, 
I cannot say. We have heard of the Russian approach for 
seven or eight years, nay more ; and perhaps we might have 
made alliances there. Of course, we cannot look on the 
approach of our neighbours, with all the misfortunes of the 
Crimea to avenge, with indifference. The course will be to 
discipline and push upon us the people whom they may subdue, 
and to disturb us by intrigues and we can do nothing but 
strengthen ourselves here. Now that Shere Ali is defeated, 
Afghanistan may have some kind of head with whom we may 
ally ourselves, but all that has happened in that country in 
connection with us has not favoured any friendly feelings. 
The best thing we can do is to push on railways, put our 
arsenals in order, and “keep our powder dry.” 

In a letter to the Duke of Cambridge, dated Mahab- 

1 Sir W, Mansfield had since become Commander-in-Cbief in 
India and had apparently changed his views. 


leshwar, June 7, 1866, Napier describes a field day with 
British infantry in the Hills, spent in the company 
of Sir Bartle Frere, the Governor of Bombay, who 
dined with him at the Mess in the evening, and kindly 
consented to his stationing one regiment there. The 
Governor likewise, he states, 

has given orders for obtaining tho whole range of hills for 
military purposes, and for commencing permanent barracks 

I have found the Governor most anxious to do everything 
he can for the army, and nothing that I have asked for has 
yet been refused. Much which I called for during my tour 
of inspection has been done, and tho rest is ordered. It is 
necessary, of course, to watch and continue solicitation when 
things flag, but I suppose that is the case everywhere. I 
beg to enclose a memorandum detailing some of the measures 
which havo been carried out, or recommended for the army, 
which I think will please Your Royal Highness. In all these 
matters I have had great assistance from my Military Secretary, 
Colonel Dillon. 

Your Royal Highness will have seen the account of the 
capture of Samarcand by the Russians, the same distance 
from Kabul as Herat, and half that distance from Balkh which 
are now Afghan positions, so that there would be nothing 
wonderful in our having a Russian Column in Kabul next 
summer, to side with one of the combatant brothers who are 
fighting for the throne of Kabul. I hope the situation will 
bo duly considered by the parties who wish to reduce our 
European Army. 

There is nothing to be alarmed at if wc play our own part 
properly, and we may be turned out of India without aid of 
the Russians if we fail to exercise the discretion which every 
man would in his private affairs. 

Will Your Royal Highness forgive me for mentioning tho 
name of an officer now in England who can give good informa¬ 
tion regarding the Indian Army and the Afghans ? He was 
in Kabul during the Mutiny, and on a Mission to the Ameer, 
and thus lost the opportunity of further distinction. He is 



one of our very best officers, and has seen a great deal of field 
service. I allude to Major Peter Lumsden, now Deputy 
Quarter-Master-General, on sick leave. 

In the preceding chapter, Napier was anxious not 
to leave his post as Military Member of Council until 
certain questions of barrack accommodation had 
been settled, and now, on coming to the Bombay 
Command, it has been seen that the same question 
arose. Indeed, Napier, throughout his career was 
constantly occupied in caring for the well-being of 
the troops under him in the most practical manner. 

At the same time ho did not neglect disciplinary, 
tactical or strategical questions concerning the Bombay 
Army. In August, 1866, the Duke of Cambridge 
made inquiries as to Napier’s opinions, now that 
he had had some months’ experience, as to the new 
or irregular system as applied to the Bombay Army. 
Colonel Johnson, writing on the Duke’s behalf, says : 

It is not, of course, within H.R, Highness’ province to 
interfere in any manner, or even to offer remark on a matter 
so entirely under the Indian Government, but he does, never¬ 
theless hold very strong opinions on the policy or otherwise 
of the Irregular system. Every officer, nearly, there are of 
course, some exceptions, who, on coming from India, talks 
with H.R.H., is opposed to it, and all anticipate very bad 
results from its introduction. . . . H.R.H. is aware that you 
were an advocate for the system in Bengal, but would be 
glad to know what you really think of its operation in Bombay 
and India generally. 

Napier replied, and the next letter from Colonel 
Johnson is dated 16th November, 1866, to the following 

H.R.H. is much pleased with your report, and desires 
me to express his thanks to you, and to say that he considers 


it a most satisfactory account of the state of the Bombay 
Army, excepting only in one particular ; and that is in respect 
to the Native Officers, who, you remark, in some instances 
know their drill, and drill book better than the European 
Officers. H.R.H. would be sorry to think that this is at all 
generally the case, for however desirable it may bo to have 
efficient Native Officers, it is still more so that they should 
believe and have reason for believing that their European 
Officers are their superiors in every respect. . . . H.R.H. is 
greatly pleased with the report you have sent of the Soldiers’ 
Industrial Exhibition, which seems to have been a complete 
success. It must be very gratifying to you, to Sir B. Frere, 
Sir Charles Staveley and others, who have taken so much 
pains to promote this movement, to find you arc so well sup¬ 
ported by those in whose interests and for whose benefit you 
are working. . . . 

As regards the strategical aspect of tho Bombay 
Army, the Province of Sind on the North-West Frontier 
belonged to the Bombay Presidency, and Napier lost 
no time in visiting this portion of his Command, 
which contains the approaches to Kandahar. The 
following letter to him from the Viceroy is of interest: 


Dec. 25th , 1800. 

I have telegraphed in reply to your letter of the 16th that 
I had no objection to your going to Quetta, if all is quiet 
in that direction. It may no doubt be useful that you should 
see and report on the Bolan Pass and Quetta. I am glad, 
however, to find that you ure averse to any forward movement 
beyond our frontier. This scheme which Col. Green has 
brought up, is very much the same as that which Genl. Jacob 
concocted some ten years ago. I was then against it, and 
am still more so now, if that were possible. I quite agree 
with you that internal arrangements, and a contented 
and efficient army is what wo should strive at. I look 
on all movement on our part beyond the frontier, as sure 
to lead to complications of serious kinds, to a waste of 


money which we cannot spare, and to further distrust of our 
designs. . . . 

Many thanks for your kind congratulations on the success 
of the Durbar. It was a comfort when it was over, for oholera 
was flying about. 

Napier’s visit to Sind and voyage up the Indus 
duly took place, but something occurred to prevent 
his going up the Bolan Pass, as another letter from 
Sir John Lawrence dated 25th February, 1867, ex¬ 
presses his regret that Napier “ was not able to run 
up to Quetta and see it and the Bolan Pass.” 

Sir Bartle Frere was at that time Governor of 
Bombay, and was an advocate for a forward policy 
on the frontier, to which Sir John Lawrence was 
always strenuously opposed. Although judging from 
the previous letter, Napier was then against a forward 
movement, he was in later years strongly in favour 
of the retention of Kandahar after Sir Frederic Roberts’ 
campaign in Afghanistan, and did not, of course, share 
Sir John Lawrence’s aversion to any military prepara¬ 
tions on the North-West Frontier. Sir Bartle Frere 
wrote to Lord Cranborne in November, 1866: “If 
we had really good military communications throughout 
India, and an outpost at Quetta, we might safely 
leave events to develop themselves. . . And again 
to Lord Cranborne in February, 1867 : “Sir Robert 
Napier has returned from Sind greatly pleased with 
all he saw, and satisfied, I think, as to the soundness 
of our frontier system. He went with a camp of two 
thousand men over all the scenes of his great name¬ 
sake’s 1 mountain campaign, some sixty miles beyond 
our frontier, and was everywhere welcomed as a 
friend. ...” 

1 Sir Charles Napier. 



The next letter of interest is from Sir Hope Grant 
at the Horse Guards, dated 10th May, 1867: 

On receipt of your letter, I at once told H.R.H. of your 
wish to have an annual relief of regiments at Aden. Ho at 
once saw the propriety of it, and a letter has been written 
to that effect to the War Office. The other matter belongs to 
the India Office, but he has also sanctioned a letter being 
written to that Office, stating that he thinks it desirable that 
12 per cent, exclusive of sergeants should be sent with regiments 
to India, so I trust your recommendations will be carried out. 
We propose to relieve the regiments at Aden from this country. 

I hope you like your command at Bombay. I am happy 
to see you visit all the stations and keep Commanding officers 
alive. I am sure it is most wise to go round as many as 
possible each year. . . . 

We have lately had exciting times of it here. Fenianism 
has been rampant, and these large meetings in the parks 
had a very serious appearance. The Ministry have got into 
trouble regarding an order they issued and could not carry 
out, and Mr. Walpole, Secretary to the Home Office, has been 
obliged to resign. . . , 

Another letter from Sir Hope Grant, dated 23rd 
July, refers to the visit of the Sultan and the mag¬ 
nificent entertainment given by the India Office, to 
which 3,000 guests were invited: 

His Majesty appeared very affable, and certainly did justice 
to the good entertainment in the shape of eating and drinking. 
He apparently pitched into all the good liquors with much 
feeling. . . . You have of eourso seen the Reform Bill 
which has just passed in the House of Commons. People 
seem to be terrified at it, but I don’t expect it will do any 
harm. . . . 

Amongst the papers of the year 1867 are two showing 
differences of opinion with Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, the 
new Governor of Bombay, and also with Sir Bartle 



Frere, the former Governor of Bombay, for whom 
Napier had, however, a great regard. One concerns 
the claim of the Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay 
Army to nominate officers for the command of 
Divisions, as was the rule in the Presidencies of Bengal 
and Madras. It was urged by Napier that “ there 
may be many circumstances relating to discipline, 
which would not usually come before the Govern¬ 
ment, that exercise an influence in the selection of an 
officer for a Command so important to discipline as 
that of a Division of the Army,” and also that “ there 
are no political conditions in connection with the 
Division Commands in this Presidency which would 
necessitate a different procedure from that which 
obtains in the Presidencies of Bengal and Madras.” 
This demand was met by the Bombay Government 
with a blank refusal. The Secretary to the Govern¬ 
ment “ was desired to say that the practice of other 
Presidencies is not disputed . . . and as the practice 
of this Presidency has been uniform for a very long 
period, H.E, in Council does not see what possible 
question there can be as to the existing rule in this 
Presidency, and H.E. in Council desires me to add 
that he does not recommend any change of it.” Thus 
the path of the reformer was not always an easy one. 
On the back of this despatch is a Minute in Sir R. 
Napier’s handwriting respectfully soliciting that his 
reference maj- be submitted for the consideration of 
the Secretary of State for India. 

The direct result of this official application is not 
known, but private correspondence shows that Napier’s 
views prevailed, and it may consequently have been 
withdrawn. But what Civil Governor would now 
maintain the right to nominate Divisional Commanders 


in his Presidency or District, independently of the 
Commander-in-Chief ? 

The other paper is the draft of a Memorandum in 
which the Commander-in-Chief Bombay “ regrets very 
much to learn that H.E. the Governor disapproves 
of the site selected by the Sanitary Commission for 
the new infantry barracks at Kirkee, because it is 
very difficult to find a suitable place, and a change 
may delay the commencement of the buildings that 
have been so long and urgently required. His Excel¬ 
lency Sir Bartle Frere thought the situation too windy, 
but the members of the Sanitary Commission are all 
officers of great experience of the climate, and dis¬ 
tinguished in their several departments. They no 
doubt considered all the circumstances on the spot, 
and that the quantity of wind which might prove 
inconvenient to the dwelling of a private family, 
would only be a wholesome purifier and beneficial 
to the Military Buildings of a regiment which are of 
necessity to a certain extent overlapped, and brought 
near to each other. ...” 

Kirkee has since become an important military 

Previous to this, Napier had already again attacked 
Sir Bartle Frere on the question of barrack accommoda¬ 
tion, as the following interesting letter shows: 

March 3 rd, 1867. 

I wrote a Minute yesterday on the question of the Barracks, 
which I hope you will not take amiss. I wrote it in the 
interests of this Government with which I am now bound up. 

I really dread another season with the condemned barracks 
of the Poona Depot—our past history tells us of cholera at 
Poona, Ahmednagar, Kurrachi, and if any repetition of such 
a calamity should occur, the blame would be thrown on this 



Government. It might be said your sanitary mentor, Dr. 
Leith, has solemnly warned you against certain barracks. 
The rules recently made by the Government of India were 

before you- Why has nothing been done for permanent 

remedy ? 

It would be in vain to say our Engineers’ zeal and energy 
are broken by the burden of many repeated plans and estimates, 
and we did not think we could get the money,—defences in 
such cases are seldom heard amidst the clamour . . . and 
when matters have gone wrong, everyone tries to pass the 
blame on to someone else. 

As regards the necessity of amendment, it only requires 
one to visit some of the barracks in the hot weather . . . 
or to look at the bare mud plains of Kurrachi, and think 
what there is to make a soldier's life tolerable, under all the 
bonds of discipline and Military duty. Then, if we put off 
getting sanction for a permanent design, we are driven to give 
temporary substitutes, which cost nearly as much as the 
permanent objects. 

I write these lines that my Minute may not be misunderstood. 
I want to see this Government in possession of sanctioned 
plans and estimates which it can carry out without further 
interference from the Supreme Govt. 

As regards the discipline of the army in the Bombay 
command, there was room for some anxiety, and it is 
interesting to note in the following letter to the Duke 
of Cambridge that Napier was in favour of corporal 
punishment for certain offences : 


May % 1867. 

I have to report to Your Royal Highness that everything 
is proceeding satisfactorily under my command. The only 
point that I have to notice is the prevalence of certain crimes 
of insubordination attended with violence towards superior 
officers. On several occurrences of this kind taking place, I 
immediately caused a return to be drawn out shewing in full 
the circumstances of each case—the age and general character 


of the soldier—the sentence awarded, and that actually inflicted 
in each case for the last four years. This enables me to review 
the statistics of this crime, and the effect of the punishment 
awarded. Such a review is valuable for preserving consist¬ 
ency in punishment. In almost every case it is evident that 
the main desire of the men has been to escape from the country. 
The assaults on Commissioned officers, with one exception, 
show no intention of inflicting injury, but merely to commit 
such an assault as will lead to penal servitude. A tobacco 
pipe, or a quid of tobacco arc thrown at the investigating 
officer. In the last instance a very young soldier, while 
undergoing imprisonment and hand-cuffed, lifted a piece of 
brick and threw it towards his Commanding Officer. He knew 
he could not hit him, and, when told he had rendered himself 
liablo to penal servitude, he was heard to say ! “ That is 

all I wanted.” 

In this case I had him tried by a District Court Martial 
which awarded him 50 lashes and two years’ imprisonment 
in India, in addition to his unexpired sentence, which was 
to him a much heavier punishment than penal servitude by 
(which he could) get an immediate release from duty, a journey 
to the sea coast, then a sea voyage which is no very severe 
punishment, and afterwards an unknown future in which 
they believe there are facilities for diminishing the severities 
of imprisonment. 

Owing, I conclude, to the very disgraceful state of the 
prisons in India, in which the prisoner’s health is so often 
destroyed, the imprisonment in India is limited to two years. 
I am under the belief that if we had proper prisons in India, 
a sentence of flogging and 3 or 4 years’ imprisonment would 
be much more dreaded than any number of years of penal 
servitude. In the absolute want of a decent prison in this 
Presidency, I could not desire to see a longer sentenco than 
two years awarded. I have pressed upon the Government tho 
necessity of building a proper prison, and had Sir Bartle 
Frere remained, we should have had one now commenced, 
but under a chango of Governors, I fear the discussions which 
have delayed it for so many years will have to be gone over 


I beg to enclose for Your Royal Highness’ information an 
abstract of the return of crimes of insubordination, showing 
that they were more numerous in the years 1863, 64, 65, 
than in 1866. It is remarkable that in 1863 there was no 
case of assault of Commissioned Officers, but nine of Non- 
Commissioned Officers; in 1864 there was but one Non- 
Commissioned Officer and six Commissioned Officers struck; 
in 1865 three Non-Commissioned and eleven Commissioned 
Officers ; in 1866 four Commissioned Officers, and in 1867 
up to the present time two Commissioned Officers. I believe 
that the punishment of 50 lashes and two years’ imprisonment 
in India are certainly more dreaded than the shorter sentences 
of penal servitude, and that it is owing to this that the assaults 
are transferred from the Non-Comd. to the Commissioned 
Officers. I have directed the attention of Inspecting General 
Officers to the regiments in which these crimes have prevailed, to 
ascertain as far as possible if there is anything in the internal 
economy which may have a tendency to produce them. As 
Your Royal Highness is well aware, it has happened in India 
that similar crimes have grown to such an extent as not to 
be checked until the extreme punishment of death has been 
awarded. I trust that careful attention and the ordinary 
measures will be found sufficient. The occurrence of several 
cases together drew my attention particularly to the subject, 
but it is satisfactory to find that the crime has been less frequent 
under my command than formerly. For the bad soldier who 
wantonly raises his hand to strike or insult his superior officer, 
I am satisfied that the lash is the best punishment. . . . 

As the question of corporal punishment is now under dis¬ 
cussion, I have ventured to trouble Your Royal Highness 
with so much on the subject. Generally the behaviour of the 
soldiers is very good. There is very little crime amongst the 
mass. . . . 



History of the Country—Preparations for the Expedition— 
Advance to Antalo and Dalanta Plateau. 

The events which led up to the Expedition may be 
briefly described as follows: 

A successful soldier, having assumed the name of 
Theodore, and claiming to be a descendant of King 
Solomon, and to be the promised Messiah, according 
to an old Abyssinian legend, succeeded in defeating 
all rivals excepting the Chief of Tigre, and in 1851 
assumed the title of “ Emperor Theodorus by the 
Grace of God.” He encouraged European traders and 
manufacturers who flocked to his principal city of 
Gondar. In 1862 Captain Cameron was appointed 
British Consul. He advised King Theodore to make 
a treaty with Great Britain with a view to promoting 
commerce, and the latter wrote a letter to the Queen 
of England proposing to send an embassy. This 
letter was duly received by the Foreign Office and— 

Such is the story told by the great war correspondent 
Stanley who accompanied the Expedition, and pub¬ 
lished an account of it, and it may readily be believed. 
But unfortunately this popular panacea for incon¬ 
venient and unimportant correspondence led to 



Some time afterwards Cameron was despatched by 
the Foreign Office on a mission to the Soudan in 
connection with cotton cultivation. This mission 
was misinterpreted by Theodore, who interrogated 
Cameron on his return to Abyssinia, and, finding 
that he had brought no reply to his letter, assumed 
that the British Government was intriguing with his 
enemy the Turk, and threw him into prison. This 
occurred in 1863. With the passage of time, matters 
went from bad to worse, and finally all Europeans 
in the country, including missionaries, were made 

Meanwhile Theodore, by the aid of European 
workmen, had established powder factories and gun 
foundries ; the possession of heavy guns, including 
12- and 15-inch mortars, made him a terror to his 
enemies and increased his self-esteem and overbearing 
temper. By degrees the condition of the prisoners 
became known to the Press, and, according to Stanley, 
owing to the pressure of public opinion, the Foreign 
Office was obliged to send a diplomatic mission to 
effect their release in January, 1866. The mission 
failed, and the envoys were added to the list of 

When it became clear at the beginning of 1867 that 
the British Government might have to resort to force, 
the possibility of an Expedition must have been 
mooted to the Government of Bombay, as it is recorded 
in the official history of the Expedition (Holland and 
Hozier) that General Napier had directed the Quarter¬ 
master-General of the Bombay army, Colonel Phayre, 
early in that year, to procure all the information he 
could find about the country. After sifting a mass 
of books and documents containing reports of travellers, 


etc., Colonel Phayro compiled an account by which 
it seemed that the neighbourhood of Massowah would 
provide the best landing-place, and that the direct 
route across the mountains by Antalo and Lake 
Ashangi would be the most suitable. And so it 
eventually proved. 

The history of the Expedition has been given in 
great detail by Major Holland and Captain Hozier. 
It is proposed to give here a brief sketch of the cam¬ 
paign, together with an insight into the difficulties 
which Napier encountered and overcame as revealed 
by his personal correspondence not previously pub¬ 
lished, both in the preparation and execution of the 

On the 12th July, 1867, Mr. (afterwards Sir Seymour) 
FitzGerald, Governor of Bombay, received a telegram 
from Sir Stafford Northcote, Secretary of State for 
India, making certain inquiries regarding the despatch 
of an expedition and at once consulted with his Com- 
mander-in-Chief. Napier replied, without knowing 
that he would be called upon to command, in two 
memoranda dated 23rd July and 8th August, advising 
the speedy despatch of an Advanced Party of selected 
officers of each Department, and a regiment of Native 
Infantry to form a Base of Operations in the healthy 
tableland as near Massowah as possible. The distance 
to Magdala was estimated at 400 miles. It was 
pointed out that King Theodore had made enemies 
of all his neighbours, and many might join against 
him, but it was necessary to form an expedition strong 
enough to do its own work. That about 12,000 men 
would be required. That the Expedition would be 
very costly, but that, with this force in hand, in 
spite of all obstacles, Magdala could be reached in 


from two to two and a half months. A very large 
quantity of carriage would be required, chiefly mules 
and camels. A coolie corps would be very convenient. 
The troops should carry tents, blankets and waterproof 

On the 25th of July, 1867, Napier wrote to the Duke 
of Cambridge and among various items of interest on 
different subjects said: 

There has been some communication between the Home 
Government and that of Bombay regarding the possibility 
of an expedition to Abyssinia. It is to be hoped that the 
captives may be released by the Diplomatists at any cost of 
money, for t he expedition would be very expensive and trouble¬ 
some ; and if not a hostile shot is fired, the casualties from 
climate and accident will amount to ten times the number of 
the captives. Still if these poor people are murdered, or 
detained, I suppose we must do something. 

I enclose for Your Royal Highness's approval a short 
Memorandum which I have sent to the Governor, as I believe 
that some proposals for a much smaller force have been made. 
It is quite possible that all being smooth, a very small force 
would do what is wanted, but it is exactly when a Force is 
small that things do not go smoothly. I therefore thought it 
best to submit my views. 

I send also for Your Royal Highness’s information the 
Qr.-Master-General’s Memorandum, which is, of course, subject 
to correction on the acquisition of later information. 

Though I never expected an expedition, I thought it proper 
to have my Department up in all available information. . . . 

In view of the necessity for establishing numerous 
posts over a long line of communication, the employ¬ 
ment was advocated of many regiments weak in 
numbers rather than larger units of a higher fighting 
capacity. Napier also insisted upon the use of wheeled 
artillery and wheeled transport. 

On the 13th August Napier wrote to the Viceroy 


of India, giving him an outline of the force which he 
considered necessary, namely four regiments of Native 
Cavalry, one squadron of British Cavalry, ten regiments 
of Native Infantry, (one to be a Bengal Pioneer regi¬ 
ment if procurable); four batteries Field and Horse 
Artillery; one Mountain train; a battery of six 
mortars 6^-inch, and if possible two of them to be 
8-inch; and a coolie corps, 3,000 strong for loads 
and working parties. 

The strength of the Force was roughly calculated 
thus : 

Sick, 10 per cent. ..... 1,200 

For Post near the seu, and on high land 
and Communication .... 2,000 

For Post in the advance and Communication 2,000 
Column for action and support . . . 6,800 

Total 12,000 

On the 15th August Napier was offered the Command 
of the Expedition, which he accepted in the following 

My dear Mr. FitzGerald, 

I respectfully accept the command with which I have 
been honoured, in case an expedition should take place. 

I would submit that the Political responsibility should 
be included with the Military Command. I am very much 
obliged to you for early information. I have not sought the 
command in any way, and desired my friends not to do so, 
but I have always held myself in readiness to be oalled upon 
in case they should not have fixed upon a better man for the 
work. I shall consider the telegram as quite confidential 
as long as it may be necessary. I have already received a 
number of applications which I laughed at yesterday, con¬ 
sidering the question settled. 

And on the following day Napier wrote again: 


I thoroughly appreciated the wisdom of the reserve that 
you adopted, and quite agreed as to the prudence of it. The 
matter makes no difference to me in any way at present. 
When the time comes, I shall be equally ready to take the 
duty put upon me, or to help anyone else in it that may be 
chosen. The main point is to do all in our power to com¬ 
pensate for the delays which the indecision at Home may 
cause. . . . 

On the 25th August Napier wrote to the Commander- 
in-Chief in India, Sir William Mansfield, explaining 
that he had been obliged to fix upon troops whoso 
proximity to the coast facilitated the arrangements 
for an expedition about which there was great un¬ 
certainty, and stating that the copy of his telegram 
to the Viceroy would give in full the details proposed. 
Napier continued: 

It is possible that minor alterations may take place, but 
generally I wish to adhere to it. The country may admit of 
our opening wheel tracks quickly ; if so, it will lighten our 
cares very much. I intend to try it, and I have no doubt 
difficulties, which our ignorance of the country magnifies, 
will melt away when they are grappled with. But I wish to 
fortify myself in every way, and hope to get a good many 
elephants ; they at least can feed as well as their wild cousins 
who will be on the other side of the hedge as we go along. 
The undertaking is now a national demand, and both the will 
of the people of England and the cries of those poor captives 
render it necessary to employ every resource to carry it through. 
I sincerely trust wo may be tho means of obtaining their 
release. There seems much ground for fearing that we may be 
too late. 

I shall keep you informed in future of the progress of affairs. 

Meanwhile great preparations were going forward at 
home in the matter of procuring carriage for the 
Expedition. Sir Edward Lugard wrote from the 


Quartermaster-General’s Department at the War 
Office on the 3rd September: 

On my return (from Homburg) yesterday, I found them 
half wild with Abyssinian fever. Officers were being des¬ 
patched in every direction to purchase mules and send them 
to Suez to be handed over to your people. The India Office 
have asked us to get 7,000 if possible, saying that 20,000 
will be required for the Force ! I fear that the management 
of this legion of mules will not bo your least difficulty. . . . 
It would be a great advantage if you could get the cable 
laid in connection with what already exists down the Red 
Sea. We hinted that it might bo done by The Great Telegraph 
Coy., but the India Office would not take the hint. . . . 

Fortunately the British Government early in the 
day entrusted Napier with full powers both military 
and political; otherwiso tho advice tendered to him 
by the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief in India, 
and also, especially by tho Governor of Bombay, 
with which he did not agree, could not but have 
greatly enhanced the difficulties of tho situation, as 
the following extracts from his correspondence show: 

From the Viceroy (Sir John Lawrence) 

August 25th, 1867. 

On receipt of your letter of the 13th, I thought it well 
to show it and the euclosures to Sir W. Mansfield and Sir 
Henry Durand ; and we had subsequently a Committee of us 
three and Norman on such points as appeared to strike us 
regarding tho proposed expedition to Abyssinia. As time is 
of importance, I had the result embodied in a letter in the 
Military Department to the Bombay Government, copy of 
which I enclose. 

I quite understand that the Home Government has left 
everything in your hands, and therefore everything which has 
been said, or may be said hereafter, must be treated as mere 
suggestions on our part. We all think, however, that it is 
very important that all the troops which are required from 


this Presidency should go as a whole under their own leadors, 
and that none of our troops should take the place of Bombay 
troops to do their duty while absent. Anything like such an 
arrangement as the last would be very unpopular on this 

We propose that Henry Lumsden should command the 
Bengal Division. If this be agreed to, the Division on your 
side should be commanded by an officer of the Line. Sir 
W. Mansfield seems to think that the best man for this post 
will bo General Staveley who was in the Crimea and China, 
and was thought well of. I know nothing of him. . . . Any¬ 
thing wo can do on this side to help you in any way, you 
may rest assured shall bo dono to the best of our ability. 
We in no wise desire to interfere, or control, or oven to advise 
more than you may really wish. . . . 

The carriage question seems to me to be tho one of para¬ 
mount importance. If, as Colonel Merewether believes, 
sufficient quantity can be collected on tho coast in proper 
time, all seems then of secondary consequence, and can be 
supplied from India. But it is out of the question in my 
mind hoping to supply carriage from India. 

From the Same to the Same 

Simla, Sept. 31st. 

I have received your last letter ; and the despatch from 
the Bombay Government relating to the arrangements for 
the Abyssinian Expedn. arrived last night. I am very sorry 
that you would not take a Division of Native troops from us. 
I still think it was the right course to pursue. You would 
have got some of our best regiments and most experienced 
officers, and tho arrangement would, I feel sure, have worked 
well. As to jealousies they seem to me more likely to arise 
by taking a small body of my (sic) Troops, than if Bombay 
and Bengal were equally represented. It strikes mo also 
that the difficulty about coolies, muleteers and so forth, 
will be greater now than if a good force were going from this. 
These men, coming from this side, will bo put with Bombay 
officers and troops, and will have to go as it were by themselves 
to Abyssinia. Nevertheless, I will do all in my power to 
help you. My great anxiety is about the coolies. I doubt 


much if we shall get many to go ; and if they do go, most 
of them will die. Every effort ought to be made to get men 
on the sea-board. Such fellows as one sees at Aden are what 
you want. I think when once a portion of the troops land, 
and establish themselves on the uplands, cattle will be more 
readily available. The display of power with money and 
good treatment ought to bring the hungry camel owners 
to us. 

I am very sorry to hear that your health is not strong, 
and I hope that if you cannot stand the work and exposure, 
you will come back before you advance into the country. 
It is quite on the cards that Theodoras, when he hears of 
the landing and advance of the troops, will give way. Then 
will be the time to send on your letters to him. 

From the Same to the Same 

Sept. 23rd, 1867. 

I am glad to find that the Queen has, at my recommenda¬ 
tion, given you the 1st Class of the Star of India. I am sure 
that you do not care for these things, still it is right that 
your services and merits should be recognised. 

From the Same to the Same 

Simla, Sept. 26th, 1867. 

Since I wrote to you at Sir W. Mansfield’s suggestion in 
favour of General Stavcley, I hear that he has been appointed 
2nd in Command of the Abyssinian Expedition. But since 
then I have heard an unfavourable opinion expressed of his 
force of character and general ability. Now, if this be true, 
considering the chances of your perhaps breaking down, and 
having to come away, it appears to me to be my duty to ask 
you in confidence, if you are satisfied that General Staveley 
is in all respects fitted to succeed you in case of accident as 
Commander of the Expedition. If you say yes, I shall feel 
bound to accept what you say, and shall not move further, 
at present, at any rate, in the matter. If your answor is 
unfavourable, I propose to telegraph in cipher to the Secretary 
of State, not quoting you as my authority, but simply saying 
that I have grounds for thinking that Genl. S. would not be 
equal to the command and urging that an abler officer be 


appointed as 2nd in Command. I want you to reply to this 
note by telegram, either “ I concur in your view,” or “ I am 
quite satisfied.” 

I make no apology to you for interfering in this way ; the 
safety of the Army and the honour of England are involved 
in this matter. 

I much fear from your last note that your health is not 
good. We will give you another regiment of N. Infantry. 
I only wish that you had taken a Division from us. Such a 
body in a difficulty would tell. 

But I do not desire to vex you on this, or any other point. 
We expect to get a good many moro mules in the Punjab 
than we first anticipated. 

To these letters Napier replied as follows: 

Poona, Sept. 9th, 1867. 

... In reply to yours of the 31st. Tho main point of 
our expedition is carriage as you know. Of what Abyssinia 
can give, Merewether, who wrote confidently at a distanoe, 
can now say nothing here ! That we can hire a good deal 
of camel carriage there, I believe ; and that we could buy 
camels and mules, but we can’t begin until established there, 
and though hired camels will do all that may be wanted to 
keep up the supplies in the low country, they will not go 
into Upper Abyssinia. ... I do not think it will be necessary 
to send any camels from India, but if they are wanted and 
could be hero by the 1st Dec. or even later, we should find 
use for them, even though the Force had gone forward. There 
is this advantage in sending cattle from India, that besides 
them, much tonnage of stores also could go in the same vessels. 
It is not therefore necessary to condemn entirely transporting 
from India. But there seems a prospect of getting a good many 
mules now from Egypt and the Mediterranean, and some from 
Persia. Mere-wether says he can get 5,000 good camels from 
Aden. I doubt it, but he may. . . . 

But there is ono resource that has not been touched upon. 
If India has no mules, she surely can furnish tattoos (ponies), 
and pack bullocks to carry our grain. All the Mahratta 
campaigns were fought with the aid of Brinjarahs (carriers of 


grain on ponies and bullocks). Wo might buy up and trans¬ 
port 10,000 pack bullocks, which would do for our Commissariat 
supplies very well, and do to cat afterwards. 

Nothing will persuade me that if we are in earnest, wo 
cannot get carriage ! So that if you get a requisition for 
camels, you may be sure they are wanted. Could you ascertain 
how many good baggage tattoos could be collected with drivers 
in case of necessity 1 They will carry their 150 lbs. of grain, 
and feed on the produce of the country we aro going to, with 
very slight help. . . . 

I had nothing to do with the getting of the business. I 
gave no opinion until I was asked, and you have seen from 
my Memos, the grounds on which I have based my advice 
step by step. 

I could not advise the Government to accept the Bengal 
Division. It would not work well; jealousies would spoil 
everything. It is of the greatest consequence to have one 
harmonious force. I should, I am sure you know, have rejoiced 
to have my old friends again with me. But here are regiments 
on the spot, all anxious to go, and if the captives should bo 
released, they have not far to go back. 

But it has been determined to ask you for two cavalry 
regiments and a Pioneer corps, with the mountain battery to 
make a Brigade and Staff. . . . 

I sent Sir William Mansfield copies of my reasons for selecting 
regiments. I hope he will not attempt to interfere in their 
employment. The regiments all know one now, and I hope 
they will bear roughing cheerfully. . . . 

Your last sentence is exactly what I urge—make every 
exertion to get carriage, and the more you get now, the shorter 
will be the campaign. 

Bombay, October 3rd, 1867. 

I must thank you for your kind letter informing me of 
tho Star of India, and your kind recommendation of me for 
that honour. 

I assure you it is very gratifying to mo that you consider 
my services worth remembering, and worth public recognition. 

My own intense feeling is that 1 have done so much less 
than I desired, and hoped, that I am very far indeed from 


self-satisfaction, and that, after all is fully counted, I must 
admit myself an unprofitable servant before the higher tribunal 
that alone can weigh us justly. 

But I accept the honour which you have recommended me 
for, as a proof at least of my good intentions and your opinion 
of them. . . . 

I am quito well now ; desk work and want of exercise 
are my maladies which a move dispels. I have no fear of 
breaking down, and God forbid I should think of turning 
back, and of leaving to anyone else the care of those men 
who are trusting to my command. 1 feel every confidence 
in my plans. There is nothing rash in them—1 make no hasty 
moves. If I do not succeed, there can be no disaster, and 
some better man will come up and complete on my foundations. 
We are going on well in everything but transport corps, and 
that will now be put right. The army are in the highest 
spirits, and I have no fear of my Bombay regiments. Mansfield 
never knew them, they will do very well. 

P.S.—I have just replied to your telegram regarding Staveloy. 
Of all the subordinate commanders whom I know, I should 
have selected him. I knew him in China as Brigadier, and 
have seen him for nearly two years here. 

As a matter of fact Napier liad written very warmly 
in praise of Brig.-General Staveley to the Duke of 
Cambridge as far back as December, 1865, and it 
was doubtless in some degree owing to such praise 
that ho was nominated to this appointment. 

His Royal Highness in his capacity of Field-Marshal 
Commanding-in-Chief wrote to Napier on the 17th 
August, 1867, in the following terms : 

I leave England for Germany to-night, and have only 
time to write you one line to say that I have seen a copy of 
the Despatch which has been prepared by Sir Stafford North- 
cote to go by the next mail on Monday, and in which he directs 
the Government of Bombay to prepare at once the Abyssinian 
Expedition, placing you in command of the troops. 

No better selection could have been made, and I rejoice 



to think that the Government should have quite agreed 
with me in the Officer to be appointed to so important a post. 
Sir Charles Staveley is to be your 2nd in Command, and a 
more valuable officer than Sir Charles, you camiot, I think, 

On the 9th December the Duke wrote again to 
Napier as follows: 

I have received your letters of the 27th Sept, and 13th Oct. 
Nothing can be more satisfactory than all your arrangements 
seem to be for carrying out the Expedition. 1 am glad to 
find that you are satisfied with the support given to you by 
the Home authorities. 

I know that Sir Stafford Northcote and the Indian Council 
have been most anxious to meet your wants in every way, 
and, as far as I can judge, they have done so with promptitude 
and with good effect. You may at all times rely on my most 
zealous support and co-operation, and all your wants shall 
be fully and powerfully backed by me. I can assure you that 
the Government at Home have the fullest confidence in your 
ability and discretion, and I think you will find no sort of 
difficulties in that quarter. Wishing you from my heart 
every success. 

That Sir Robert Napier was deeply grateful to His 
Royal Highness for his most generous support, is 
shown by repeated letters from him to the Duke, during 
the Expedition, ascribing his progress as in great 
measure due to such support, and the following two 
letters to Sir Stafford Northcote, Secretary of State 
for India, also express his gratitude to the British 

13 th October , 1867. 

I have to thank you for your letter of the 10th Sept., and 
for the confidence reposed in me. I am very glad that you 
agree with me in the necessity of going on safe grounds. 

What would be the fate of a small party, say of 5,000 men, 
perhaps reduced by sickness and fatigue, if they should find 


themselves unable to effect the release of the prisoners, or to 
catch Theodore, or to stay where they were, for want of 
supplies ? 

What would become of their sick and wounded on their 
return through 400 miles of difficult country ? . . . 

28 th November. 

I have to thank you very much for your letter of the 18th 
October. It is most satisfactory to have a clear view of the 
policy which Her Majesty's Government wish to pursue, 
and to feel that I have your confidence and support, especially 
as people in England may become impatient for some action 
while we art really only buying and saddling our mules and 
bullocks. . . . 

However, in spite of this support from home, Napier’s 
difficulties, especially with Sir Seymour FitzGerald, 
the Governor of Bombay, must ha ve been an additional 
source of anxiety, and required no little exercise of 
firmness coupled with patience and courtesy, to 
overcome them. 

It has been already mentioned that, directly Napier 
accepted the command of the Expedition, he stipulated 
that he should have full political as well as military 
control. This was a most important matter, and 
was not in accordance with the prevailing custom in 
India, where every little expedition on its borders 
was accompanied by a Political Officer who, as the 
Viceroy’s deputy, assumed a general control, the 
executive military action only being in the hands of 
the military commander. Thus, a Memo, by Sir R. 
Napier in reply to one from the Governor, dated 
8th September, contains the following passage: 

I concluded that I should receive some formal and definite 
information of any change in His Excellency’s views or plans, 
and I was therefore not prepared to learn from Colonel Marriott 
(secretary to the Government of Bombay) when the Expedition 


was nearly ready to proceed, that H.E. had decided to entrust 
to Colonel Merewether (the Political Officer) the responsible 
duty of determining finally the point of debarkation, and of 
converting the reconnaissance into an occupation of the coast 
by a party of about 150 men. Of all the various circumstances 
that may have led H.E. to this conclusion, I was not fully 
informed, but I entertained strong objections to the question 
being left entirely to Colonel Merewetber’s decision, he being, 
in accordance with His Excellency’s opinion, in military com¬ 
mand of the party, because, while concurring entirely with 
H.E. in his high estimation of that officer, it has seemed 
to me that Colonel Merewether has strong preconceived 
opinions in favour of a line of route, which from most recent 
reports, especially that of Mr. Muntzinger, appears to me to 
be one that would be dangerous to the success of the Expedition, 
and that his selection of a port of debarkation will be insensibly 
influenced by such very strong and sincere opinions. 

I accept the alteration offered by H.E. of sending another 
officer with the Expedition, and propose that the Quarter- 
Master-General shall accompany it and return at the earliest 
possible period after a decision has been come to. . . . With 
His Excellency’s concurrence, I propose to form a Committee, 
of which Lt.-Col. Merewether as Senior Officer will be President, 
Lt.-Colonel Phayre Q.M.G., Lt.-Colonel Wilkins R.E., and the 
Senior Naval and the Senior Medical Officers, Members, to 
decide on the point of debarkation. . . . 

And again on the 13th September Napier writes: 

My dear Mr. FitzGerald, 

To preserve perfect uniformity of action, in all Depart¬ 
ments, I would submit to Your Excellency whether the wishes 
of Your Excellency’s Government regarding the objects of 
the reconnoitring Party—in fact all orders to Colonel Mere¬ 
wether exclusive of his duties as Resident at Aden, should 
not be conveyed to me by Your Excellency’s Government 
to be communicated to Colonel Merewether in an Order from 
the Commander-in-Chief. . . . 

The wording of the above letter would doubtless 


have appealed to the celebrated War Correspondent, 
Mr. Henry Stanley, who was destined a few months 
later to accompany the Expedition, and in his book 
on the campaign gives a slight sketch of the General-in- 
Chief as follows: 

His face was remarkable for the kindliness of the blue 
eyes, the genuine gentleness of the countenance lit up by them, 
and the smile that continually played around his lips. To 
all Sir Robert was extremely bland, affable, and kind ; some¬ 
times there lurked in his tones something akin to a sarcastic 
politesse, and at such times he was more plausibly phrased 
than ever. 

To resume—in another important matter Napier 
had occasion to disagree with his immediate superior, 
the Governor of Bombay. On September 15th, hearing 
that something in the nature of an ultimatum to King 
Theodore was on its way and that he was expected 
to make a similar demand, he writes as follows : 

My dear Mr. FitzGerald, 

There is much reason for consideration as to what we 
should do regarding the communication to Abyssinia. My 
impression is that nothing should precede Lord Stanley’s 
letter. Our preparations are too miniature to give a good 
footing for issuing threats that may not be followed up soon. 
We have to consider the effect on the prisoners. . . . 

On the I7th the Home Government having asked 
when Sir R. Napier would make his peremptory 
demand, Napier writes again: 

On referring to the Secretary of State’s telegram, I find 
it stated that Sir R. Napier can, if he thinks proper, make 
a peremptory demand in anticipation of the delivery of the 
letter itself, at such time and in such a manner as he may think 
proper. Thus Your Excellency will perceive that it is quite 
permissive, and no urgency is expressed that a message should 


go with the letter. I have to solicit Your Excellency’s con¬ 
sideration of the fact that the responsibility of the message 
is entirely mine, and as there is now time, I wish, with Your 
Excellency’s permission, to convey my opinion regarding the 
message to the Secretary of State in the terms of a telegram 
which I will prepare in the morning. 

Mr. FitzGerald replied to the Home Government’s 
query of the 17th to the effect that in his opinion a 
demand for the release of the prisoners should be made 
at once. The matter had, however, been left by the 
Secretary of State for India to Sir R. Napier, who 
thought that such a step would be premature. He 
(Napier) sent the following message to the Secretary 
of State: 

The letter from Lord Stanley is virtually a declaration of war. 
Is the peremptory demand for the release of the prisoners 
urgent, so long before the advance, and the message disclaiming 
all annexation ? 

To this the Secretary of State replied that the letter 
of Lord Stanley to King Theodore contained a peremp¬ 
tory demand. On receiving it Sir R. Napier was to 
judge what further to do. Sir Stafford Northcote 
thought that probably no other demand would be 

The gist of Lord Stanley’s letter was that the 
Queen’s previous appeal of the 16th April for the 
release of the prisoners having remained unanswered, 
Her Majesty had therefore given orders that “ A 
military force under the command of Lt.-General 
Sir Robert Napier, K.C.B., should without delay 
enter your dominions and obtain from you by force 
a concession which you have hitherto withheld from 
friendly representations.” 

This letter was forwarded through the political 


Resident at Aden, and reached Mr. Rassam, one of 
the prisoners, who destroyed it for fear of its effect 
upon the King’s temper. 

Two proclamations were subsequently issued from 
Lieut.-General Napier to Theodoras King of Abyssinia, 
the latter of which, dated 14th November, ran as 

I am commanded by Her Majesty the Queen of England 
to demand that the prisoners whom Your Majesty has wrong¬ 
fully detained in captivity shall be immediately released and 
sent in safety to the. British camp. 

Should Your Majesty fail to comply with this demand, 
I am further commanded to enter Your Majesty’s country 
at the head of an army to enforce it, and nothing will arrest 
my progress until this object shall have been accomplished. 

My Sovereign has no desire to deprive you of any part 
of your Dominions, nor to subvert your authority, although 
it is obvious that such would in all probability be the result 
of hostilities. 

Your Majesty might avert this danger by the immediate 
surrender of the prisoners. 

But should they not be delivered safely into my hands, 
should they suffer a continuance of ill-treatment, or should 
any injury befall them, Your Majesty will be held personally 
responsible, and no hope of future condonation need be 

(Sd.) R. Napier, Lt.-General, 
Commander-in-Chief, Bombay Army. 

Active measures in pursuance of the avowed policy 
of Her Majesty’s Government commenced on the 
16th September with the departure from Bombay of 
the Reconnoitring Party under Colonel Merewether. 
The party arrived at Massowah on the 1st October, 
and at once commenced its investigations. A few 
days were sufficient to decide upon Zula in Annesley 
Bay as the most suitable landing-place, in spite of the 



fact that the very gradual slope of the shore necessi¬ 
tated the ultimate construction of two piers, one 700 
and the other 900 feet in length. Various routes were 
explored leading to the uplands, and finally on the 
23rd November the route to Senafe by the Kumayli 
Pass was selected. By this time stores and transport 
animals had begun to arrive, including condensers 
for the water supply of the Base, and a Commissariat 
Depot had been formed. 

For the first two months they were entirely de¬ 
pendent on local coolie labour, and for some weeks 
every package had to be landed through 200 yards of 
shoal water. The Advanced Brigade reached Annesley 
Bay from Bombay on the 21st October, and dis¬ 
embarked on the 30th, experiencing great difficulty, 
as the piers were not yet made. They also suffered 
much from lack of water, which had to be supplied 
from the ships, and underwent many hardships in 
opening up the route to Kumayli, at the foot of the 
hills, in clearing and levelling the ground for a large 
camp, and in continuing the road up the Pass to 
Senafe, which they were able to occupy after a month 
of hard labour on the 8th December. On the same 
date Sir Charles Staveley, preceded by the Sind Brigade, 
arrived in Annesley Bay to assume the command 
pending the arrival a month later of the Commander-in- 

Much required to be done. The faulty organization 
of the Transport train, against which Sir R. Napier 
had protested, had become evident, animals were 
straying, starving or dying for want of water. Warm 
clothing had not yet arrived from England for the 
European troops who could not therefore be sent to 
the Highlands. These defects were gradually rectified. 


Condensers were set up, and the building of the piers 
was so far advanced that by the time the Commander- 
in-Chief arrived, one pier had been constructed pro¬ 
jecting 900 feet into the sea ; a tramway was running 
from the pier to the camps of the Commissariat and 
Ordnance departments, and the total strength of the 
troops which had already landed was some 2,000 
British and 5,500 Natives, and the number of efficient 
transport animals had risen to 5,018 mules and ponies, 
1,839 camels, 962 pack bullocks and 256 bullock 
carts. During the three months nearly 11,000,000 lb. 
of provisions had been landed at Zula including forage, 
gram, wheat, barley, beans, flour, biscuits, tea, sugar, 
salt beef, salt pork, vegetables, etc., fodder alone 
amounting to some 6,000,000 lb. 

Sir R. Napier landed in some state on the 7th 
January, and at once took over the command. One 
of the first points to be attended to was the improve¬ 
ment of the road from the Base and especially through 
the Suru Gorge between Kumayli and Senafe. This 
was the most dangerous part of the whole route, and 
it became essential to form a vast depot of stores 
at Senafe at an elevation of some 8,000 feet. The 
approach to the tableland was through a very narrow 
deep gorge, the dry bed of which became a fierce 
mountain torrent in time of rain to a depth of more 
than 10 feet, sweeping all before it between per¬ 
pendicular cliffs. This was one of the reasons that 
made it so advisable to finish the campaign before 
the commencement of the rainy season, but an alterna¬ 
tive route was planned, and could have been carried 
out in case of need. 

A letter to Lady Napier, written on the 6th January, 


Hitherto the press of thoughts for the great undert akin g 
—for it is really a great undertaking, were so absorbing that 
I could not sit down to anything. My health too was a source 
of great anxiety, as I feared I should not be able to bear the 
continued burthen of responsibility without power. Now 
everything is comparatively easy : at least I can see what I 
have to deal with, and order the means in my hands ; the 
constant worry of dealing with an insincere and intrig uing 
Government has much diminished, although it has not quite 

Napier never feared responsibility when given a 
free hand. During January, apart from the business of 
organizing transport, work was concentrated on the 
passes ; a good road was made over tire plain to 
Kumayli, and a railway commenced in the same 
direction. The Suru defile was made good for wheeled 
traffic, and the introduction of cart transport, insisted 
upon by Napier from the outset, made possible the 
accumulation of stores which was wellnigh impossible 
with pack animals alone. A chain of fortified posts 
had to be established. The natives, though apparently 
friendly, were ready to become our enemies at the 
slightest reverse. Kassai, Prince of Tigre, hung upon 
the right flank and was at feud, not only with Theodore, 
but also with another Abyssinian Chieftain, Wagshun 
Gobaze, further along the route. Both had to be 
conciliated, and the greatest care had to be taken 
that the troops should give no cause of offence to 

On the 28th January, Napier writes : 

First I found, as I had anticipated, all Merewetber’s carriage 
very far short of what he had promised, and of such bad 
quality that only half of what had been given was alive. . . . 
Had it not been for the carriage which I had urged being 
collected in India, we should have been badly off. The road 


was only passable for camels, and the railway barely begun,— 
mules dying in numbers, and people talking about the fact 
that a mule eat its load in the time required to get to Senafe. 
It has taken us nearly a month, but now I see my way. The 
road is, or in two days will be smooth for carts. Then the 
whole 33 miles will be open, and the 300 Maltese and 200 
Bombay carts can take supplies, and leave to other philosophers 
the question whether a mule eats its load on the journey. . . . 
This has been my work together with supplying all other 
deficiencies. Orders for water arrangements, sanitary arrange¬ 
ments, all required to make our base equal to support our 
advance. I feel now that the task at this late hour is accom¬ 
plished, but no one can tell how much thought and anxiety 
it cost me. Our difficulties are much diminished. Friendly 
relations with the Prince of Tigre continue. . . . To-morrow 
I shall be at Senafe. 

Another important problem was the water supply 
on the line; of march. One hundred Norton’s tube wells 
for boring, and fifty Bastier’s chain pumps for raising 
water from existing wells had been sent out from 
England. Portable hand pumps were also used. The 
tube wells did not function much deeper than twenty- 
nine feet, but were able to penetrate almost any 
soil short of solid rock or bard boulders, and proved 
to be very useful and portable. The chain pumps, of 
course, provided a much greater volume of water where 
it already existed, but in places such as Magdala, 
no device was of much avail. It was well for Napier 
that he had not put his trust in the previous reports 
of the country, for on February 15th, he wrote: 

The abundant river that was mentioned, the Weah river, 
I measured. It was 18 inches broad and i inch deep ! And 
the bed of it of such a filthy nature that the water could not 
be wholesome. But all the arrangements for water have 
been now admirably made, and in the plain between the 
sea and the hills, where no water was supposed to be procurable, 


three wells have been sunk, yielding plentifully, and good 
water. At the foot of the mountains, Komeli, the wells were 
sunk to a hot spring, which now supplies 5,000 animals with 
water in two hours, . . . 

The assistance afforded by the Navy at Zula was 
so great that Napier arranged for the formation of 
a Naval Brigade to accompany the Force to Magdala, 
and their rocket tubes, as will be seen later, proved 
of great assistance in the eventual capture of the 

The artillery was transported by means of elephants, 
and nineteen out of the total of forty-four had already 
arrived when the advance commenced. In this cam¬ 
paign, guns were carried for the first time on their 
backs, elephants having been hitherto employed as 
draught animals for this purpose, on difficult ground. 

After three busy weeks spent in the heat and toil 
of the Base, Napier arrived at Senafe on the 29th 
January, and at once proceeded to follow up the 
friendly relations which had already been opened 
with Prince Kassai for a free passage and the supply 
of provisions. 

Napier’s proclamation to the Abyssinians had already 
taken some effect, and he now despatched Major Grant 
as an envoy to Kassai, moving on, himself, to Adigrat, 
some three marches further on the way to Magdala. 
Major Grant, C.B., was none other than the celebrated 
African traveller, who had been temporarily attached 
to Sir R. Napier’s Staff, and his visit to Adowa, the 
capital town of Tigre, a place of some 10,000 inhabitants 
and situated 40 or 50 miles to the west of the line of 
march, proved most successful. He was well received 
by the Prince, and after several interviews persuaded 
him to visit the Commander-in-Chief first within a 


month, finally in a fortnight’s time. Meanwhile, 
much remained to be done at Adigrat in the way of 
increasing supplies, re-organizing the Transport Corps 
into two divisions—lowland as far as Adigrat, and 
highland from Adigrat to Magdala. The latter, entirely 
military, under the Quartermaster-General, became very 
efficient. Drastic orders also had to be introduced 
limiting the scale of baggage, and later on of rations 
also. 1 A telegraph line was also erected by means of 
poles of which there was a deficiency, supplemented 
with difficulty by purchases from the natives, who in 
the absence of forest growth pulled rafters from their 
houses in their eagerness to receive payment. 

Letters written at this time (February 17th, Camp 
Adigrat) from Napier to the Duke of Cambridge and 
to Sir Stafford Northcote betray the terrible anxiety 
caused by lack of transport and supplies. Great 
losses of animals, the non-fulfilment of contracts for 
purchasing mules and camels from Egypt, and the 
dilatory action of the authorities at Bombay in failing 
to ship bullocks in time, combined with the dearth of 
local supplies to delay the forward movement. Napier 
also had to resist the pressure of public opinion im¬ 
patient of inaction. 

To Lady Napier he writes from Camp Adigrat on 
the 15th February: 

... I am risking much by advancing beyond what I consider 
prudent before supplies have been passed on, but I do so in 
hopes of drawing something from the country, and making 
arrangements with the Ruler of Fasti for supplies. Beyond 

1 The allowance for a British battalion was reduced from the 
Indian scale of 1,200 mules and 600 camp followers, to 187 mules 
and 96 followers, and this measure contributed much to the success 
of the Expedition. 


Antalo I cannot advance until supplies come up, and they 
are even backward at Zula. . . . Still I think we may finish 
Magdala before the rains, if Theodore remains to defend it. 
The report is that he is there now, and fortifying it as fast as 
he can. If we can surround him there, it will be well. If 
he carries off his prisoners to his own country, more remote 
than Magdala, we shall have to remain there, and have him 
followed up. . . . We have reduced all baggage to the very 
lowest, and all Native followers. The officers of European 
and Native regiments have soldier servants, the only people 
who have luxuries are the Special Correspondents. But all 
are in good health and spirits, and have the noblest zeal, 
equal to anything but starvation. We could starve between 
two points if there were relief at the end, but when the end 
is attained, and we are then to find no resources, and to find 
our way back again without anything to supply us, opens 
a possibility on which I must not venture. . . . 

There is a church here, better than wo have seen, with 
many pictures of Scripture scenes done in better style than 
Indian pictures, but often rather ludicrous—the Egyptians 
in the Red Sea, holding matchlocks up, to keep them from being 
wetted. But still they are Christians, acknowledge one God 
and Saviour, and when they will believe we are Christians, 
they like us. . . . 

On the 22nd February writing again to Sir Stafford 
Northeote, he says : 

The followers of the troops are reduced to the lowest numbers 
possible. Nothing is retained but the sick carriage, and the 
greater part of that will remain at Antalo, and as we approach 
Magdala, the advance Force will have little more than it can 
carry. There will be nothing then to impede the most rapid 
movements ; but to rush forward at present would perhaps 
read well in England for a time, and leave our Force in front 
of Magdala too small to invest it and too weak to attack it. 
Nothing would be so injurious to our prestige than such a 

Just as Napier had completed his work at Adibaga, 


30 miles beyond Adigrat, and was moving to the next 
camp, intelligence was brought that Prince Kassai 
was advancing towards Hausen to seek an interview. 
Hausen lay some miles off the line of route, and it 
was at once arranged that the meeting should take 
place on the banks of the Dyab river half-way between 
Hausen and the British line of advance. Accordingly 
soon after daybreak on the 25th February, a British 
detachment moved towards the Dyab. Tents were 
pitched on either side of the. stream. The British 
Commander, mounted on an elephant and followed 
by his Staff, advanced to meet the Prince. The 
Abyssinian troops moved forward in line to the sound 
of rude kettledrums. The British Force likewise 
got under arms, and both forces converged on the 
river. On arriving close to the banks Sir R. Napier 
dismounted from the elephant, and mounted his 
charger, to avoid creating a panic among the horses 
of the Abyssinian cavalry. 

The Abyssinian line opened out, and the Prince 
advanced, mounted on a white mule with a crimson 
umbrella held over his head, attended by his counsellors 
and guard, forded the stream, and was received by 
the British Coinmander-in-Chief in the tent prepared 
for the purpose in the presence of his Staff and the 
Prince’s followers. 

An elephant had been used for this occasion in order 
to impress the Abyssinians who, accustomed to the 
animal in its wild state, were in great dread of them 
and had no idea that they could be tamed. 

The interview commenced with the usual lengthy 
Oriental exchange of compliments, followed by the 
display of presents for the Prince which included a 
fine Arab charger from the Commander-in-Chiefs 


own stable. Then the tent was cleared of all but a 
few officers on either side, and the Prince intimated 
that he wished for a guarantee against invasion of his 
territories by a rival Chief the Wagshun Gobaze. 
This Sir R. Napier would not grant, but promised, as 
far as possible, to secure peace between them. He 
thanked Kassai for the friendship already shown in 
their passage through his country and drew attention 
to the fact that all supplies had been paid for, and 
not a blade of grass nor a morsel of food had been 
robbed from any Abyssinian. 

It was also pointed out that the British army could 
obtain all their supplies from their ships, but in that 
case they would have to stay longer in the country. 

An inspection of the British troops then took place, 
the Abyssinians being especially impressed with the 
Armstrong guns. 

It then became the turn of the Commander-in-Chief 
to cross the stream and inspect the Abyssinian troops 
who presented a very creditable appearance, and 
displayed a power of manoeuvring that more civilized 
troops might envy. After the review, took place 
the return visit, during which the British Commander 
was presented with a silver gilt armlet, and a lion’s 
mane and skin was thrown over his shoulder. These 
were the insignia of a great warrior. He was then 
girt with a sword, and mounted on a richly caparisoned 
grey mule. A shield and spear were handed to one 
of his Staff who acted as armour-bearer, and in that] 
guise the Commander-in-Chief returned to camp^ 
mercifully screened from the soldiery by the shades 
of approaching night. 

On the following morning the Prince had a further 
private interview with the Commander-in-Chief, and 


engaged to afford security to convoys, and also to 
deliver weekly large supplies of wheat and barley. 

These were no small results obtained from a Chief 
whose territory extended for some 150 miles of road 
on the way to Magdala. 

On the 2nd March Napier reached Antalo, the half¬ 
way house between Zula and Magdala, after passing 
over some varied country, at times going through 
narrow rocky gorges along a river bed, at times open¬ 
ing out on to rolling downs and a fertile alluvial 
plain, and again over limestone hills studded with 
acacia. Two weeks were spent at Antalo waiting for 
supplies. Here Stanley gives the following calculation : 
“ A force of 10,000 men including followers, required 
for thirty days 4,000 mules at the rate of 150 lb. per 
mule. For baggage, ammunition and tents rather 
more than 4,000. Probably with fifteen days’ forage 
in hand, and a treasure of 100,000 Austrian dollars, 
much could be accomplished in obtaining supplies 
from the natives.” It is a curious fact that as the 
natives only recognized Maria Theresa dollars, 500,000 
pieces had to be specially struck in the Vienna mint 
for the purpose of this expedition. Baggage was 
now again restricted to 75 lb. per officer and 25 lb. 
per man, and eventually a march beyond Lake 
Ashanghi on the 22nd March, no baggage was allowed 
except what the officers carried on their chargers and 
the men on their backs. Mule loads were reduced 
from 150 to 100 lb. 

Previous to this, however, more Abyssinian chiefs 
had to be won over. Messengers were sent to Walda, 
a robber chief, and to Wagshun Gobaze. The latter, 
having some 40,000 men, was an important power to 
be conciliated. He did not himself appear, but his 


brother visited the Commander-in-Chief with the result 
that their protection was gained, and a supply of 
provisions procured. Their opinion was that Theodore 
would fight. 

At Maknan near Lake Ashanghi, game was very 
plentiful, including hares, antelope, etc. Some one 
shot a wild elephant. 

The route now lay over another pass, followed by 
a drop of 3,000 feet to Lake Ashanghi. A soldier’s 
remark: “If you call this a tableland, then the table 
is upside down and we are going up and down the 
legs,” caused Napier much amusement. Then a very 
long and tiring march to Dildi gave rise to discontent 
among the men and especially those of the 33rd 
Regiment. This was reported to Sir R. Napier who 
harangued them on the following morning, and placed 
them in the rear-guard as a punishment, and from 
there onwards the 4th King’s Own led the way. 

The following day the force had to cross a pass of 
over 10,000 feet, and a few days later attained to a 
height of 11,000 feet on the Wadela plateau. This 
was the territory of Wagshun Gobaze. His Chief 
Commander, Dajaz Mashesba, accompanied by some 
800 men came to the British camp for a palaver, but 
meeting a picquet of the Sind Horse, the alarm was 
given, and the infantry advanced in skirmishing order. 
Fortunately they were pulled up just in time to avoid 
an exchange of shots with their new allies, which 
might have had disastrous consequences. The inter¬ 
view with Sir R. Napier took place, and Mashesba 
departed happy with the gift of a horse and rifle. 
Supplies were quickly forthcoming, but another out¬ 
post affair resulted in an alarm, and two Abyssinians 
were shot when the General came again to announce 


the sale of (5,000 lb. of grain. It was with some difficulty 
that this second affair was arranged by a money 
payment to the families of the deceased. 

On the 4th April Napier moved across the ravine 
of the Jedda separating Wadela from Talanta Plateau. 
Great care was taken to secure the summit of the 
ascent from Jedda by the Advanced Guard closely 
followed by the 1st Brigade and the Commander-in- 
Chief, but no enemy was encountered, although at 
Bethor before crossing the ravine, the road recently 
constructed by Theodore on his march from Debra 
Tabor to Magdala was made use of by his assailants. 
He had been then; with his heavy Ordnance on the 
1st January, and the remains of his camps were 
constantly met with. The road was a fine piece of 
rude engineering and proved useful to the British. 
The stupendous nature of the country is well described 
by Stanley : 

This ravine that yawned beneath our feet as wo stood on 
the extreme-, edge of Wadela was thirty miles long, 3,800 feet 
deep, and two miles across from Wadela to Talanta. As we 
surmounted a gentle rolling ridge, a huge and gloomy wall 
of rocks looming up on the opposite side of Wadela was seen. 
On approaching the brow, we discovered the remains of 
Theodore’s camp. This was the Ben Hor, so often heard of 
in the newspapers, where his camp stood while the road down 
the deep Jedda ravine was constructed. 

Regarding the road he says: 

We could perceive the marks of Theodore's drills in the rock 
throughout the whole length of this pass. It must have 
been tedious work to him, working as he did with imperfect 
tools, an enemy hovering about him in the form of Wagshun 
Gobaze, and another one advancing upon him in his rear 
in the shape of the British force. The natives say that he 
worked as hard as any of his men ; that he was constantly 


riding about on a white mule, to observe his men while at 
work. Now he would encourage and praise, anon ho would 
threaten ; at times would he flog ; and at another place he 
would order a man out to instant execution ; then again ho 
would dismount, and proceed to show what real earnest work 
could do. After 5 weeks’ hard work, he had constructed 
from the height of the Wadela to the hollow of the Jedda 
and up to Talanta plateau, a road 8 miles long and 30 feet 
wide. Over this road we travelled, from terrace to terrace, 
down slanting gradines, and down the side of ledges, which 
in some places were almost perpendicular until we arrived 
at the bottom of the ravine. The bottom was covered with 
pebbles and round boulders. In deep hollows alone could be 
discovered any water. ... It was very late even next 
day before the over-strained transport train arrived upon 
Talanta plateau. 

A few days’ rest was now essential. Rations were 
short, supplies had to be collected. Fortunately, the 
local Chief proved a staunch ally and provisions poured 
in abundantly. 

On tho 8th April the Commander-in-Chief accom¬ 
panied by his Staff went forward to the southern edge 
of the plateau to reconnoitre the fortress of Magdala, 
and pronounced it a very strong place, stronger than 
any yet met with on the road. Engineers were set to 
work to make scaling ladders. 

The following morning both brigades moved to the 
southern extremity of the plateau and camped near 
the road leading down to the Bashilo River. 

Stanley says : 

Join me, reader, on tho extreme brink of Talanta plateau, 
and let me show you, to the best of my ability, the famous 
Magdala and its surroundings. Open your eyes and behold 
the scene ! 

From the edge of the plateau on which I stand, I look 
down directly below my feet, and see a wall of sheer rock 


about 50 feet in depth, then a sloping terrace running forward 
100 feet or so, abruptly terminated by another precipice of 
a like depth, along the base of which winds a well-made road 
for a hundred yards, when it turns and descends another 
terrace, and so on from ledge to ledge it winds through its 
tortuous convolutions until the eyes rest on a river the 
Bashilo, 4,000 feet below ! Across this turbid stream the 
vision traces another road, whitened by travel, inclining up 
another ravine—the Aroje, for about 5 miles, when it is lost 
from the view by a jutting abutment of an aslanting hill, 
until w r e find the road, fainter than before, ascending at a 
sharper incline, a high hill topped by a small plateau. From 
this plateau arises, apparently perpendicular to us, at eight 
or ten miles distance, a frowning mass of rocks divided into 
two differently shaped mountains. The one to the right is 
Fahla ; the other is Selasse, a low ridge connects them. Behind 
Selasse, I am told, is Magdala. Not a particle of it is visible. 
The obtruding proportions of Selasse prevent us from seeing 
it. Move a mile westward of where the camp is, and the 
massive outline of the royal fortress is distinctly seen. These 
triple scarped heights contain Theodore, his army and the 
captives. Theodore has certainly selected the most impreg¬ 
nable heights for his eyrie ! 



Full details of the crossing of the Bashilo, the 
subsequent advance up the Aroje Pass, together with 
the Abyssinian attack, and the final storming and 
destruction of the fortress of Magdala are given later 
in Napier’s despatch of the 12th May, but the following 
letter to Lady Napier affords a more intimate account 
of the advance up the Aroje Pass, and the first engage¬ 
ment with the Abyssinians: 

My intention was to ascend from tho Bashilo to the high 
land by a road which I ordered to be made, and from thenco to 
reconnoitre for a position to attack Magdala from. P. went 
on ahead to reconnoitre ; never heeded my orders ; took 
away the Sappers, and sent back a note to say : “ Have secured 
the Aroje Pass, the head of the Pass. Send tho guns and bag¬ 
gage by it.” This was done trusting to P.’s report that he 
had secured the head of tho Pass. When I came up and found 
my order about the road not executed, and that nobody knew 
where P. was, or where the head of the Pass was, that he said 
he had secured, 1 got very uneasy, and pushed on just in time 
to see the Mountain guns and rockets emerge from the Pass 
close under the enemy’s position. 

I saw the danger of the situation, and immediately sent 
down the Punjab Pioneers to the head of the Pass. P. had 
never secured it; there was not a man there to cover it. 
Hardly had the Punjabis arrived there than we saw some horse¬ 
men gallop down from the hill at speed, and rapidly about 
3,000 men came down, horse and foot, tearing towards the 




rocket battery and tho head of the baggage. There was not 
a moment to lose. The enemy thought to have an easy 
victory over a small party and to have great spoil. They 
had not seen the column on the height. Fortunately, I had 
hurried on tho regiments which I found lingering on tho road 
for water, and Staveley took down the 4th Regiment, and I 
sent the Beloochis after him, and a small party of cavalry 
under Col. Loch. 

The enemy were surprised, but showed a great deal of courago 
—in vain ; they were rapidly driven back by the 4th, and 
the Beloochis, and turned towards their right—our left. At 
the same time large numbers that had attacked the Mountain 
battery, and the Punjabis were driven back, and the wholo 
forced into n mass between the Punjabis and the 4th King’s 
Own and Beloochis, and suffered terrible slaughter. I believe 
over 1,000 killed, and many fled. The enemy were utterly 
defeated, and driven in. Heavy rain and night obliged our 
troops to return, and we had a wet bivouac. In the morning 
I took up again the position of over night for the 1st Brigade, 
and the 2nd Brigade occupied the head of the Pass. Thus 
a fatal and presumptuous blunder of P.’s was the cause of 
a complete victory, which so dispirited Theodore, that ho 
sent in Mr. Flad and Prideaux to make terms. I said “ Submit 
to the Queen, give up all prisoners, and you shall be honorably 
treated.” He, at first was in a great rage, and sent back my 
letter, and a rambling unsigned one from himself. That 
evening he repented, and sent in Cameron, Blanc, Prideaux, 
Rassam, Mr. Flad ; and to-day all the Europeans, some 40 
in number, with wives and children have come in. I hope 
Theodore will accept the terms to-morrow. We shall then 
take possession of Magdala, and return immediately. If he 
does not, we shall storm it on the 14th, and I trust that God, 
who has signally aided us, will give us the victory. 

I send the prisoners to the rear to-morrow morning. It is 
not easy to express my gratitude to God for the complete 
success as regards the prisoners. Everything has turned out 
well—little or no sickness- -and this notwithstanding that tho 
men have had great fatigue, short rations, no rum, no sugar, 
no tobacco for some time. I trust God will enable me 


to fulfil my hope of taking back the army in safety and 

The despatch from Napier, to the Secretary of State 
for India, runs as follows : 

Commander-in-Chief’s Office, Headquarters, 

Camp Antalo, 

May 12th, 1868. 

On April 3rd, when encamped on the Wadela plateau, I 
received intimation from the Chiefs of Talanta that Theodore, 
having moved from Magdala, and encamped on the plain of 
Aroje, was preparing for an expedition. Letters from the 
captives also warned me to be on my guard. Between the 
British force and the plain of Talanta lay the Jedda ravine 
3,400 feet deep. As the passage of this formidable obstacle, 
so easily defendible, could not have been effected in the face 
of an enemy without serious loss, I made a forced march of 
18 miles, crossed the Jedda, and established myself on the 
plain of Talanta. The mere distance in miles gives little 
idea of the labour and fatigue of the march ; the excessively 
steep descent and ascent, and the great heat, were very dis¬ 
tressing for troops heavily weighted. Theodore, however, 
did not cross the Bashilo, but plundered and burned the 
villages between that river and Magdala, which had always 
been faithful to and trusted him. 

From the edge of the Talanta plain I obtained a distant 
but clear view of the position of Magdala and its approaches. 
I was able, with a good telescope, to appreciate the formidable 
character of the whole position, and became aware that I 
should require all the infantry that I could possibly collect 
to make the attack effective, and that every cavalry soldier 
that I could bring forward would be necessary for the invest¬ 
ment. Even with all the force that I could hope to gather 
up, I felt that I could not complete the investment by sending 
a column to close the Kaffurbar or southern gate of Magdala, 
but I deputed an officer of the Intelligence Department, Mir 
Akbar Ali, to Masteevat, the Queen of the Wollo Callas, to 
engage her to bring every man she could muster, to close all 


escape on that side. Mir Akbar Ali’s report will be forwarded, 
and will show how effectually he accomplished his mission. 

Reluctant as I was to incur any delay so near to Magdala, 
these considerations, and the necessity of having supplies 
sufficient to carry me through the operations against that 
fortress, obliged me to defer crossing the Bashilo for several 
days. I had not overlooked the probability of the unstable 
Abyssinian people despising the small postal detachments 
and the pacific demeanour of our troops, but the various 
difficulties of our transport and scarcity of our supplies kept 
me without sufficient troops to make the posts of communica¬ 
tion as strong as the circumstances required. Each day, 
however, was bringing forward some accession of strength ; 
and in the meantime I had endeavoured by liberality and 
every means of conciliation, to engage the petty chiefs between 
Antalo and the Takazze river to maintain their friendly assist¬ 
ance in forwarding native convoys of supplies. It was the 
only course that gave chance of success ; unfortunately it 
succeeded but partially. Relieved from the pressure of our 
main force, the chiefs commenced to interfere with the Abys¬ 
sinian carriers of our supplies, and to make attacks on our 
posts and convoys. The local carriage which had enabled 
me to advance from Antalo, was suspended just at the time 
when its maintenance was most important: thus it happened 
that on the 4th April I had only 5 days’ supplies to depend 

The Force had left all its baggage at Lat, 100 miles in rear, 
taking on merely the clothes in which they marched, and carry¬ 
ing greatcoats, blankets and waterproof sheets ; they had no 
other encumbrance than a bell tent for 12 officers or 20 soldiers ; 
the daily storms which we experienced rendered this shelter 
indispensable. The carriage so released was sent back for 
provisions to the points when! native transport was doubtful, 
and gave me sure hope of ultimate relief from my commissariat 
difficulties, but the immediate urgency was pressing. 

On the 2nd inst. I deputed Br. General Merewether to the 
Tacazze, to arrange with the Chiefs there to bring in supplies 
of flour. 

Major Grant was directed to return to Lat, and Captain 


Moore to Lake Ashangi, to remove obstructions which had 
arisen at these places. Captain Speedy and Mr. Muntzinger 
proceeded, the former to Daont, the latter to the borders of 
Talanta that had been ravaged by Theodore, and through 
the exertions of these officers, I was enabled to feed my cattle 
and to obtain flour enough for 11 days’ supply, at 8 oz. for 
each soldier. The native followers received wheat in the 
grain instead of flour. 

Relying on the admirable spirit of my Force, I was prepared 
to commit myself against Magdala with these means. 

Besides the view which I had obtained O* Magdala and its 
approaches, I received most valuable information from a 
Chief named Beitwuddun Hailo, who had recently deserted 
from Magdala. Having engaged in some intrigues with 
Menelek, King of Shoa, he knew well that his lot would be 
instant death on his master’s arrival. It is difficult to give 
by description alone, a sufficient idea of the formidable position 
which we were about to assail. The fortress of Magdala is 
about 12 miles from the right bank of the Basbilo, but the 
great altitude and the purity of the atmosphere exhibited the 
whole outline distinctly. 

The centre of the position is the rock of Selassie, elevated 
more than 9,000 feet above the sea, and standing on a plateau 
called Islamgie which is divided into several extensive terraces 
with perpendicular scarps of basalt. A saddle connects these 
terraces with the hill called Fahla. Fahla is a gigantio natural 
bastion, level on the top, entirely open and commanded by 
Islamgie. It domineers completely at an elevation of 1,200 
feet over all approaches to Islamgie. The sides appeared 
precipitous, and the summit surrounded by a natural scarp 
of rock accessible only in a few places, and from 18 to 20 feet 
in height. Nearly concealed from view by Selassie and Fahla, 
the top of Magdala was partially visible. The road to Magdala 
winds up the steep side of Fahla, subject to its fire, and to 
the descent of rocks and stones. One part of the road is so 
steep that few horses except those bred in the country, could 
carry their riders up or down it. The whole road is flanked 
by the end of Selassie and the broad side scarp of Islamgie. 
Altogether, without taking into account Magdala itself, the 


formidable character of its outworks exceeded anything 
which we could possibly have anticipated from the faint 
description of the position which had reached us. 

The refugee Chief Beitwuddun Hailo, was very anxious 
that I should try the South side at the Kaffir Bur (gate) from 
the opposite range called “ Tanta ” saying, “ If you want to 
take Selassie, go from hence ; but if you want Magdala, you 
must go from Tanta.” This, however, would have been 
impossible ; I had not force enough to divide, and I could 
not place this vast combination of natural fortresses between 
me and my direct line of communication. I also perceived 
that the real point to be taken was not Magdala, but Islamgie, 
where Theodore had taken post with all his guns, and that 
Fahla was the key to the whole. 

On the 7th I descended to the bed of the Bashilo, and 
reconnoitred the crossing. The ordinary approach to Magdala 
is by the Arogie Ravine which commences under Islamgie 
and is bomided on its right by a spur which extends from 
Islamgie in a serrated ridge to the Bashilo. A similar spur 
from Fahla stretches to the water of the Bashilo, and bounds 
the ravine on its left. The highest point of this ridge is about 
2,000 feet above the bod of the Arogie Ravine. 

The grand features of the ground rendered it impossible for 
me with my small force of infantry to hold both sides of the 
ravine. I considered Fahla the key of the position, and 
determined to occupy the ridge bearing in different parts 
the names of Gombage and Affijo, which leads to that imposing 
outwork. Established on this ridge I could operate on either 
side of Fahla, as might seem expedient on closer examination. 

Between the 4th and 9th inst., my Force was increased by 
six companies of the 45th Regiment under Lt. Colonel Parish, 
which, though long delayed through want of carriage, had 
marched from Zula in 25 days. A wing of the 3rd Bombay 
Native Infantry under Lt. Colonel Campbell was detained 
7 marches in rear, owing to the urgent want of carriage, and 
I thus lost the services of an able officer and an excellent 
body of soldiers on whom 1 had calculated for the attack. 

On the 9th the whole force concentrated on the edge of the 
plateau overlooking the Bashilo, which flows 3,900 feet below 


it. Major Chamberlain with the 2nd Punjab Pioneers, sup¬ 
ported by a wing of the Beloochees occupied the bed of the 
Bashilo and repaired Theodore’s road. The signallers of the 
10th Company Royal Engineers maintained communications. 
The Royal Engineers and the Madras and Bombay Sappers 
under Captain Goodfellow, made up the necessary provision 
of sand-bags, scaling ladders and bags filled with powder for 
the demolition of gates, stockades, etc. As the only supply 
of water between the Bashilo and Magdala was under the 
enemy’s fire, all the water carriers of the Force were organized 
under the command of Captain Bainbridge, Transport Corps 
with two subalterns (Lieut. Mortimer, Transport Corps, and 
Lieut. Ramsbottom, Transport Corps), for the purpose of 
carrying forward regular supplies of water from the Bashilo. 
The Bandsmen and a party of Punjab muleteers were also 
organized under Captain Griffith, aided by Lieut. Gaselee, 
Transport Corps, and furnished with stretchers for the removal 
of wounded men from the Field. 

Action of the 10th April 

All preparations having been completed, I placed the 
cavalry under Colonel Graves to hold the Bashilo, but ready to 
advance, and moved the remainder of the Force across the 
river, under tho immediate command of Sir Charles Staveley. 

The 2nd Brigade under Br, General Wilby, to remain in the 
bed of the Bashilo in support; the 1st Brigade under Br. 
General Schneider, to occupy the Gunborgi spur and advance 
to a suitable place for encampment, and also to cover a recon¬ 
naissance by the Deputy Quarter-Master General of the 
enemy’s position. The Deputy Quarter-Master General re¬ 
ported that the ascent to Gunborgi was extremely steep and 
difficult, and that the King’s road up the Arogie ravine was 
easy and secure for the mountain guns and baggage; they 
were therefore ordered to take that route. 

When the leading part of the column had reached Affijo 
I arrived at the front. The King's road emerges from the 
Arogie Pass at a distance of 1,200 yards from Affijo, and 700 
feet below it. I ordered Major Chamberlain’s Punjab Pioneers 
to be sent immediately to cover the head of the pass, and 


the remainder of the Brigade to be closed up as soon as possible. 
The men were greatly distressed by the heat, the severe ascent 
and want of water. Shortly after Major Chamberlain had 
taken up his position, the Naval Rocket Brigade under Captain 
Fellowes appeared, rising from the pass, followed by Lt. 
Colonel Penn’s steel battery, escorted by detachments of 
infantry. At this time the enemy opened his guns from 
Fahla and Islamgie, making good practice, at the Punjabees, 
and at the position of Affijo. Notwithstanding the distance 
which was more than 3,000 yards, the enemy’s shot ranged 
well into the positions, owing to the great command, and 
probably to excessive charges of powder ; but the fire being 
a plunging one, no casualties ensued. 

Almost simultaneously with the opening of the enemy’s 
artillery, a large force was seen pouring down from Islamgie 
and the sides of Fahla, descending at speed the steep road 
and the faces of the mountains, until they filled the whole 
plain of Arojee. Many of the enemy were dressed in red, 
and almost bore the appearance of our own troops in tho 
distance;. About 500, principally chiefs, were mounted. 

The Naval Brigade hastened up the road to Affijo, and as 
each rocket tube came into position it opened on the advancing 
masses of the enemy who were startled, checked, and driven 
back at some points, but only to press forward at others. 
I directed Kir Charles Staveley to bring forward the remaining 
infantry, which by this time had (dosed up, to repel the attack. 
The 4th King’s Own regiment under Lt. Colonel Cameron, 
closely followed by Bevillc’s Beloochees and the Royal 
Engineers, commanded by Major Pritchurd, and the Bombay 
Sappers under Captain MacDonnell R.E. descended rapidly 
the steep path leading down to the Arogie Plain with un¬ 
restrained expressions of delight at having at last their enemy 
before them. Opening into skirmishing order they ascended 
a suitable slope which separated them from the Plain of Arogie, 
and immediately came into contact with the enemy, drove 
them back in spite of the efforts of their leaders, in masses, 
on which the fire Snider told with terrible effect. Several 
gallant attempts were made by the Abyssinians to rally, but 
many of their Chiefs fell, and they were driven down the slopes 


of Arogie towards the ravines on our left front. A portion 
of them withdrew up the sides of Fahla, and taking cover in 
a thicket of cactus trees, opened a teasing fire on Staveley’s 
right causing some casualties. Captain Fellowes, having 
maintained the fire of his rockets until masked by the advance 
of the infantry, had been sent to support Sir Charles Staveley. 
The fire of the rockets, together with some volleys from 
Beville’s Belooehees and the Royal Engineers, supported by 
two of Penn’s guns under Lt. Taylor, cleared Staveley’s flank 
from further annoyance. The rockets were then turned on 
the summit of Fahla; they were well directed, and, as I 
subsequently learned, produced a very great effect. A party 
of the enemy attempted to pass round the sides of Affijo to 
turn our right, but were checked by a few rockets, and dis¬ 
persed by the K company Madras Sappers under Major 
Prendergast V.C. Lieut. Colonel Loch with a detachment of 
the 3rd Bombay cavalry, accompanied the infantry in support. 

Towards the left, Colonel Milward ascended from the Arogie 
Pass with Penn’s battery escorted by detachments of the 
4th King’s Own Regiment under Captain Kittoe, and the 23rd 
Pioneers under Captain Paterson, at the time when the guns 
opened from Fahla and Islamgie. On perceiving the troops 
of Theodore descending from Islamgie, Col. Milward took 
up a strong position, and opened fire from Penn’s battery. 
Major Chamberlain, who was holding the Pioneers in hand 
to cover the head of the pass, moved to his left and joined 
Col. Milward. A considerable body of Abyssinians bore down 
upon Milward’s position. Notwithstanding the evident effects 
of Penn’s guns, they continued to advance with much deter¬ 
mination and order. Chamberlain with his Pioneers met their 
attack in the most prompt and spirited manner, driving 
them with great slaughter into the ravines to his left front; 
not, however, without gallant resistance on the part of the 
Abyssinians, who closed fearlessly with the Punjabees; the 
spear wounds received bore witness to the closeness of the 
conflict. On the extreme left the enemy pressed in large 
numbers towards the head of the Arogie Ravine where the 
baggage had arrived. The baggage master, Lt. Sweeny, 
King’s Own Regiment, with great readiness massed the baggage 



in a safe position, and the baggage guard consisting of two 
companies of the 4th King’s Own Regiment, and one of the 
10th Native Infantry, under Captain Roberts of the former 
Corps until disabled, and subsequently under Lts. Abadie 
(11th Hussars) and Sweeny, were brought forward, and most 
effectually checked the attempt of the enemy to penetrate 
into the Arogie Ravine. Arrested at the head of the ravine, 
and driven hack by the baggage guard, closed in upon by 
Chamberlain’s pioneers and two companies of the 4th King’s 
Own regiment whom Sir Charles Staveley had wheeled on to 
tb°>ir flank, the enemy suffered most severely ; large numbers 
were seen to fall from the admirably directed fire of the moun¬ 
tain guns. Theodore’s troops had advanced with the full 
confidence of men accustomed to victory ; they had cast 
themselves off from their vantage ground, to which there was 
no return. They had been promised by Theodore, that they 
should be enriched by the spoils of the English, and it was 
not without a stout resistance that thoy were finally driven 
off the field. A heavy rain continued during the greater 
part of the action. The troops thoroughly wet and tired, 
but highly elated with their victory, bivouacked for the 
night, covering the road to Arogie Pass, and before daylight 
had re-occupied their commanding position on Affijo, from 
which they had descended to meet the enemy. The wounded 
were promptly attended to under the direction of Hr. Currie, 
C.B., Inspector-General of Hospitals. Many wounded Abys- 
sinians were also carried off the field by our troops and were 
carefully attended to in our hospitals. 

The 2nd Brigade which came up in the night, occupied the 
ground which had been held after the action by the 1st Brigado. 

According to the best information, the probable number 
of the enemy was not less than 5,000, of whom at least 3,000 
were the regular musketeers, the remainder less efficiently 
armed. Theodore distributed new arms to his troops on the 
day preceding the battle. 

The loss of the enemy cannot be correctly estimated ; 349 
were buried in front of the left of our position alone, and 
exclusive of those who fell in Staveley’s first attack, 30 very 
badly wounded Abyssinians were carried to our hospital. 



Theodore’s Lieutenant, Fetararie Gabsie, and many Chiefs 
of note were amongst the slain. Nearly all night the calls 
of the Abyssinians to their wounded friends were heard, and 
the greater number of the latter were carried from the field. 
We saw a large number of wounded when Theodore’s army 
surrendered. The British loss was only 20 wounded, two 
mortally ; this disparity of loss resulted from the determined 
and persistent attacks of the Abyssinians against a better 
disciplined and better armed force, not better armed, however, 
as regards the 23rd Pioneers, whose smooth-bore is hardly 
equal to the double-barrelled percussion gun of the Abyssinians. 

There was no hasty flight; the enemy returned again and 
again to the attack whenever the ground favoured them. 
I issued orders to prevent the pursuit being carried too far 
up the hill, which could only have ended by our retiring and 
giving renewed confidence to the enemy. 

On the morning of the 11th Lieut. Prideaux and Mr. Flad 
arrived in my camp, accompanied by Dejach Alema, a son-in- 
law and confidential Chief of Theodore with a request for 
peace. I replied that if Theodore would bring all the European 
captives to my camp, and submit to the Queen of England, 
I would promise honourable treatment for himself and his 
family. Lieut. Prideaux returned to Magdala with the letter 
containing these terms. In the course of the forenoon he 
returned again to the British camp with Mr. Flad, but without 
Dejach Alema ; he brought a letter without seal or signature 
from Theodore, refusing my terms. My letter was returned. 
I sent back Lieut. Prideaux and Mr. Flad to intimate that 
no other terms would be granted. I considered that a fuller 
atonement than the surrender of the captives, when they 
could be retained no longer, was absolutely required, and 
must be exacted ; and, painful as was the thought of the 
possible consequences to the captives if Theodore’s rage should 
become excited, I relied for their safety on the apprehension 
of a renewal of the conflict which demoralized Theodore’s 
troops, and from which Theodore himself was not free, as was 
involuntarily betrayed by Dejach Alema. I relied also on 
my threat, which I impressed on Dejach Alema, of unrelenting 
pursuit and punishment of all who might in any way be con- 


cerned in the ill-treatment of the European captives. I pointed 
out how the power of Great Britain had already reached 
Magdala ; that no corner of Abyssinia, however remote could 
screen anyone whom we wished to punish. 

Lieut. Prideaux was met on his return to Magdala by 
Mr. Rassam and the remainder of the British prisoners, and 
several of thoso of other nations, all of whom arrived in my 
camp before evening. My further conditions were not com¬ 
plied with. At the request of Dejach Alema, I had promised 
to abstain from hostilities for 24 hours. After the lapse of 
48 hours, Theodore had not surrendered himself ; reliable 
information reached me that his army was recovering from 
their defeat, that many soldiers who had been unable to 
return to Magdala on the night of the 10th had since rejoined 
their ranks, that fresh defensive arrangements were being 
made, and that Theodore and his Chiefs even contemplated 
a night attack on the 2nd Brigade encamped on the lower 
ground. I therefore prepared to attack the enemy’s position. 

I had originally intended first to assault Eahla from tho 
side which fronted our camp, and was screened from the 
fire of Islamgic and Selassie. But under the altered condition 
of the enemy, Theodore having by death, wounds and desertion 
lost half of his army, and his bravest Chiefs, I determined 
to attack Islamgie by the King’s road. All arrangements 
for this had been considered, and the positions for tho artillery 
'reconnoitred and fixed upon, when information was brought 
to me that Theodore had left Magdala, and that many of the 
chiefs with their followers wished to surrender. I agreed 
to accept their submission, and ordered Sir Charles Staveley 
to advance on Islamgie, relaxing no precautions that I had 
considered necessary for the attack. The scarcity of water 
rendered it impossible to retain any considerable body of 
Cavalry before Magdala; my personal escort, under a Native 
Officer, only remained, and with a few details of other corps 
was sent under command of Lieut. Scott A.D.C., to watch 
the west side of Magdala, where they took up a good position, 
until the arrival of the cavalry under Colonel Graves, who 
completed the investment up to the Kaffir Ber Gate, which 
was watched by the Gallas. The Bashilo was held by the 


Head-Quarter Detachment of the Sind Horse, under Major 
Briggs, and detachments of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 3rd 
and 12th Cavalry under Major Miller, to secure that point, 
and provide against the escape of the enemy in that direction 
by the Menjara ravine. A detachment of the Belooehees 
under Lieut. Beville ascended by the spurs of Fahla, and 
occupied that important position, where they were reinforced 
from the 2nd Brigade by the Head-Quarters wing of the 10th 
Native Infantry, under Colonel Field. The artillery was 
placed in position, and the troops advanced, preceded by 
Captain Speedy of the Intelligence Department with a small 
escort of the 3rd Light Cavalry under Lt. Colonel Loch, to 
communicate with the chiefs who wished to surrender, and to 
prevent any misunderstanding. 

No resistance was offered. Sir Charles Staveley effected 
an entrance to Islamgie and Selassie, through a difficult 
crevice in the rocky escarps. It would be impossible to arrive 
at any correct estimate either of the numbers of the armed 
men who laid down their weapons, or of the masses of people, 
men, women and children, whom we found on Islamgie. It 
was necessary to collect and guard the arms that were sur¬ 
rendered. It was also necessary to send down all the disarmed 
soldiers, and the miscellaneous multitude that followed them, 
to the plain below, before I could proceed actively against 

Theodore himself having abandoned his attempt to escape, 
was making preparations for defence, and offering us defiance 
in front of Magdala. By 3 o'clock the Abyssinians having 
nearly all cleared away from Islamgie, I ordered the attack 
of Magdala to be at once carried out. The entrance of Magdala 
is 300 feet above the terreplain of Islamgie, and the ascent 
is by an extremely steep and rugged path. Viewing the very 
difficult nature of the approach, I made the attack as strong 
as possible, and massed the whole of my artillery fire to cover 
it, in order to overpower the enemy’s resistance and prevent 
the heavy casualties which I should otherwise have incurred. 
The assaulting force consisted of the 2nd Brigade, led by the 
33rd Duke of Wellington’s regiment accompanied by detach¬ 
ments of the Royal Engineers and Madras and Bombay Sappers 


and Miners, with means of clearing away obstacles. The 
first Brigade to be in close support. 

I concentrated the lire of the artillery on the gateway 
and the north end of the fort, which were crowded with the 
houses of the soldiers, avoiding as much as possible the higher 
part of the interior occupied by the Abyssinian prisoners and 
non-combatants. The enemy carefully concealed themselves 
from view, so that the place seemed almost deserted, although, 
when entered by our troops, it was found to be thronged with 
soldiers who had thrown away their arms, released prisoners, 
and the numerous voluntary and involuntary followers of 
Theodore’s fortunes. The artificial defences consisted of 
stone walls, loopholed, and surmounted by strong and thick 
barricades of thorny stakes, with narrow stone gateways. 
The lower one built up in the interior, the higher one being 
70 feet above the lower, and approached by a very steep 
narrow path winding amongst the soldiers’ huts. The attack 
was ably conducted by Sir Charles Staveley, whose report 
is annexed, 1 and gallantly carried out by the troops. Fortun¬ 
ately the defences were very unscientifically constructed, and 
though the attack was met by a sharp fire from the enemy, 
yet they could not direct it on the head of the storming party 
without exposing themselves to the rapid and fatal fire of the 
Snider rifle, and our loss was, in consequence very small. 
The Royal Engineers and Sappers, and leading sections of 
the 33rd regiment were long before they could force an en¬ 
trance, and during that time, nine officers and men of the 
Royal Engineers and Sappers received wounds or contusions. 
At length an entrance was found by means of the ladders 
near the gate, and by the leading men of the 33rd, who scaled 
a rock and turned the defences of the gateway; the enemy 
was driven to the second barricade, and when that was carried 
all resistance ceased. Amongst the dead near the outer gate¬ 
way, were found several of Theodore s most devoted Chiefs ; 
one of them, Dejaeh Enjeda, had urged Theodore to massacre 
all the prisoners, a course from which he was dissuaded by 
others ; close to the second gateway lay the body of Theodore. 
At the moment when the barricade was forced by the 33rd, 

1 Omitted in the present account. 


Theodore fell, as I have since learned by his own hand, his 
troops immediately fled, some by the Kaffir Ber Gate, which 
was found choked with arms that had been cast away in their 
flight. Of these fugitives, the greater part fell into the hands 
of the Gallas, and the remainder, seeing the fate of their 
comrades, and hearing the taunting invitations of the Gallas, 
returned to Magdala and surrendered. 

The command of Magdala was entrusted to Br. General 
Wilby who held it with the 33rd and wing of the 45th regiments. 
So thickly was the fortress inhabited, and so great was the 
crowd of people, that it was no easy matter to establish order. 
Guards were placed at the gates and such places as required 
protection. The Abyssinian prisoners were released from 
their chains, and the very numerous body of Abyssinians 
whose histories and condition it was impossible at the time 
to investigate, were collected in an open sp»ce in the centre 
of the fortress, where they could be protected, and where 
they quickly threw up small huts for themselves, and remained 
until their final departure. 

On the 15th, the 4th King’s Own Regt, relieved the 33rd 
in Magdala, and the 45th were moved to Islamgie to reinforce 
the detachment of the 10th Native Infantry under Colonel 
Field, for the protection of the captured arms and ordnance, 
and to furnish working parties for their destruction. The 
inhabitants of Magdala were collected at Arogie where great 
vigilance was necessary to protect them from the Gallas, 
who were lying in wait, both day and night, for opportunities 
of plundering and destroying them. Notwithstanding the 
friendly relations with the Queen of the Gallas their peoplo 
were so little under restraint, that it was frequently necessary 
to fire upon them to drive them from molesting our water- 
parties and carrying off the mules. A party of them, in 
search of plunder dared even to make their way into Magdala, 
where they were captured by the guard of the 33rd regiment. 
On the 15th and 16th the disarmed soldiers and people of 
Magdala made their exodus from Arogie. Every considera¬ 
tion was shewn them, and they were allowed to take all their 
property. The Arogie defile was guarded by infantry ; and 
their procession, after crossing the Bashilo, was guarded by 



cavalry patrols until they reached Wadela. No doubt many 
of these people deserved little mercy at the hands of the 
peasants of Talanta, who had suffered so much misery from 
Theodore’s troops ; but, having surrendered to the British 
force, it was incumbent on us to protect them until they reached 
a point of safety, from whence they could go to their native 

On the morning of the 17th, orders were issued to clear 
every one out of Magdala by 4 p.m. At that hour the whole 
of the captured ordnance having been destroyed, the gates 
of Magdala were blown up, and the whole of the buildings 
were committed to the flames. The wounded Abyssinians 
who had no friends to take charge of them, were conveyed 
into our hospitals. The elephants and heavier ordnance 
having been sent in advance on the 15th, on the 18th April 
the force recrossed the Bashilo on its return to the coast. 

A further despatch on the return journey was 
completed on the 1st June from the Commander-in- 
Chief’s camp at Kumayli. A few extracts from it 
will suffice to close the narrative of the Expedition: 

In continuation of my despatch No. 40 dated 12th May, 
I have the honor to report that I this day passed the Suru 
Defile with the last column of the Abyssinian Expeditionary 
Force, the 25th Bombay Native Light Infantry, and the 
27th Belooch Battalion. The march from Talanta to Antalo 
was trying, from the frequent severe storms of rain which 
appeared to accompany us, and from which our troops, in 
some degree, and more especially the followers and transport 
animals could not fail to suffer. 

The wild border tribes of Abyssinians and Gallas, through 
whom our route lay from the Takazze to Antalo, being very 
little under the control of their distant almost nominal rulers, 
and who were perfectly well behaved on our advance, finding 
by degrees our vulnerable points, had been for some time 
making attacks upon our muleteers and camp followers, when 
venturing far from their escorts, and on some occasions even 
on our armed soldiers. In the first instances, some camp 


followers were killed, and in the last, our soldiers being driven 
to use their weapons, several Abyssinians and Gallas were 
killed and wounded. Considerable numbers of armed men, 
principally Gallas, watched our march from the hills, and 
though restrained by the pressure of our columns, they made 
attempts on our line of baggage, but met with little success ; 
soldiers were freely interspersed along the line, and the rear¬ 
guard from Marowa to Antalo was continuously under the 
command of an experienced officer, Lt. Colonel Bray, of tho 
4th (King’s Own) Regt. until we reached the coast. 

This was a very clear indication of what a force returning 
in difficulties would experience. 

In the friendly territory of Prince Kassai, the troops returned 
to marches made easy by the improved roads, and the increased 
supplies of articles of food, turned into great luxuries by a 
period of privation, which were stored in the fortified posts 
of Antalo and Adigrat. All local information led me to believe 
that there would be no danger of floods before the middle of 
June, but owing to the extraordinary severity of the spring 
rains, a succession of floods during the early part of May did 
much damage to the Suru Defile road. On the 19th of May, 
with hardly any warning, a heavy flood, coming from a lateral 
tributary which enters above Suru, filled the Suru Defile 
channel so suddenly that seven camp followers and some cattle, 
not being instantly removed from the water-way, were swept 
away and perished. On the 30th January full precautionary 
instructions were issued to secure the safety of the troops in 
the pass, and I had no apprehension on their account. The 
losses of the 19th arose from avoidable causes, and were not 
likely to recur. In case we might be detained during the 
rainy season, an alternative line, turning the Suru Defile, 
had been surveyed by Lt. Dc Thoren, 45th Regt. Q.M.G.’s 
Department, by which a safer, though less even path might 
have been opened. By the exertions of the garrison of Suru, 
directed by Capt. Christie, R.E., the damage to the road in 
the pass was rapidly repaired after each flood. The severe 
weather in the high mountains with the reaction after excite¬ 
ment, and the scanty food, naturally increased the sick lists, 
but there are few bad cases. The wounded are rapidly recover- 


ing; and although tho total number of sick ultimately 
amounted to 260, no member of the force, however humble, 
has failed to obtain transport when required. 

The whole Force have returned in safety to the coast, and 
the greater part have already re-embarked. 

Thereafter follows a statement of the services of 
the troops under Sir R. Napiers command. Omitting 
personal references too numerous to reproduce, the 
following extracts are among those of general interest: 

Those who first claim notice are the Pioneer Force, who 
landed at Zula in October last and consisted of Major Marrett’s 
Mountain Battery (Native), the 3rd and 4th Companies of 
Bombay Sappers and Miners, the 3rd Bombay Bight Cavalry, 
and the 10th Native Infantry under Colonel Field who com¬ 
manded the whole. Their labours were not commenced 
under very encouraging circumstances. A barren shore, so 
shelving that the troops had to wade several hundred yards 
daily in landing stores, a supply of water so scanty that it 
disappeared immediately, and a temperature so sultry that 
any exertion was oppressive, but the spirit of the troops 
l ever flagged. Encamping grounds were cleared, 20 miles 
of road were made from the coast to Kumayli and towards 
Suru, a depot was established at Senafe, and huts erected 
for the muleteers. . . . 

At 50 feet below the surface, they (the Punjab Pioneers) 
found sweet water, an inestimable blessing to tho Ishmaelites 
of Zula, who in their gratitude were ready to worship the 
Pioneers. . . . 

Elephants have frequently been employed for the transport 
of artillery in Indian warfare, hut it has been generally by 
means of draught ; when guns have been carried, it has been 
only for short distances. It has been the privilege of this 
campaign to prove that elephants could carry Armstrong 
12-pounder guns and 8-inch mortars over steep mountains 
for many hundreds of miles. There were 42 elephants em¬ 
ployed in tho conveyance of ordnance and ammunition, and 
of these 5 have been lost from hard work and want of water 
during the operations before Magdala. 


In addition to the severe mountain marches, in which 
each soldier carried a heavy load, regiments often worked 
at the roads on the line of march, or immediately on arrival 
in camp. Not infrequently every available man of a regiment 
has been on working parties or outlying picket. The constant 
storms of rain and the cold nights of the high altitude were 
encountered cheerfully, on rations reduced to 8 oz. of flour 
and meat only. An increase was made to the allowance of 
meat, it is true, but that increase gave no compensation for 
the articles of rum, sugar, and compressed vegetables, which 
had to be left behind. . . . 

Seldom or never have Cavalry had such a variety of duties 
in maintaining communications for so many miles, climbing 
over mountains, and through forest ranges, often benighted, 
where a false step would be destruction, and in danger of 
treacherous attacks from the wild border tribes, who are 
honoured among themselves for slaying without reason and 
without scruple. . . . Major Palliser with the head-quarters 
of the 10th Cavalry, arrived at Attala in most opportune time 
to preserve our communications which were very seriously 

The Royal Engineers have rendered invaluable services 
during this Expedition which has given such an ample field 
for their employment. Their energy and skill are shown in 
every work from the first landing in Zula to Magdala, and 
require a special separate rcjjort. 

The very great services of the Commissariat Department 
. . . require a separate report to do full justice to the officers 
and subordinates of their establishments. 

The campaign has been one of severe military labour from 
the first landing to the re-cmbarkation. Every regiment of 
infantry carried its own pack of tools, and became pioneers, 
working hardly, whether in the long marches of the advance, 
or the more trying monotony of the plains of Zula. The 
port of Zula with its landing piers ; the railway with its 
numerous bridges ; the road through the Kumayli Pass to 
Antalo and Magdala ; the water supply at all the stations ; 
the intrenchments at Adigrat and Antalo ; the Commissariat 
and transport lines, and the camping grounds, where the most 


perfect order was required to water quickly many thousands 
of animals ; all formed one great military work on which the 
campaign has been supported. 

It would be impossible for me to do full justice to the merits 
of each portion of the force. All ranks and classes have been 
inspired with the same honourable spirit, whether in military 
labour or in conflict with tho enemy, and have borne themselves 
as if success depended on their own individual exertions and 

I beg permission gratefully to acknowledge the confidence 
placed in me by Her Majesty’s Government for India, and 
the unhesitating promptitude with which all my requisitions 
have been complied with. 

I am deeply sensible of the support and encouragement 
which I have received from His Royal Highness the Duke 
of Cambridge in every stage of the Expedition. 

On May 24th the Commander-in-Chief reached 
Senafe ; on the 25th a review was held in honour of 
the Queen’s birthday, and was attended by Prince 
Kassai, 1 A few days later, in consideration of the 
great services rendered to the British by the latter 
Prince, Sir Robert Napier presented Prince Kassai 
with six 5^-inoh mortars and six 4-inch howitzers 
together with the smoothbores of two Native Infantry 
Regiments which were being re-armed with Enfield 
rifles, and a great quantity of Commissariat stores, 
and some ammunition. Great difficulty was experi¬ 
enced in conveying the Armstrong guns back to the 
coast, owing to the necessity for forced marches, 
and the exhaustion of the elephants, who frequently 
threw off iheir loads. 

The Burn Defile which since the end of April had 
been subject to several violent and sudden floods, 
was successfully passed on the 24th May, and the 

1 Subsequently, 1872, crowned as Johannes II, Emperor of 
Ethiopia and known as King John of Abyssinia. 


Armstrong battery was safely housed on board ship 
by the 29th. 

Further letters to Lady Napier on the 6th and 28th 
May contain the following remarks: 

Everything has been a complete success, and has justified 
to the letter all my proceedings and arrangements. That 
we succeeded in spite of all my demands not having been 
complied with, will be the more to our credit, because every¬ 
thing shows that we should have been saved much, had we 
had all that wo asked for. . . . However, it is all over now. 
The army never doubted me, and I relied on them. ... It 
would be difficult to express to you all the care that has been 
on my mind—the vigilance necessary to have everything right 
in its place—and the anxiety when I had tho whole work 
before me to do, that is, Magdala, looking immense and im¬ 
pregnable, with only a limited supply of food, less water, 
and utter destruction in case of failure. And at the same 
time the chance of a success stained by the massacre of the 
captives, as the alternative which I had determined to adopt, 
rather than purchase the safety of the captives with the honour 
of England. But God has helped us wonderfully. . . . 

You will find me looking much greyer than I was, and in 
want of all the kind things you can say to me. ... I shall 
only bo able to remain a very short time. I do not want to 
be Commander-in-Chief in Bengal, but to have a little time 
to live quietly with you, love, and my children. I am well . . . 
but I am very tired and want to be idle. . . . 

Napier passed the defile on the 1st June, all stations 
in his rear having been evacuated. The troops 
destined for England returned to Suez, thence by 
rail to Alexandria, and so home in four transports, 
the remainder being conveyed to Bombay. By the 18th 
June the last man of the Expedition had left Africa. 

Before the Force had left the Dalanta Plain, Napier 
in a General Order of the 20th April had described to 
the troops in a few stirring words their performances. 


his congratulations and thanks ; and by the time they 
had reached Antalo on the return journey he had 
the satisfaction of conveying to them congratulatory 
telegrams from the Queen, the Duke of Cambridge, 
and the Secretary of State for India. 

Stanley says: “ These were the first blasts of the 
universal Jubilee that convulsed all England, wafted 
to the interior of Abyssinia. . . . Though a little 
war, it was a great campaign . . . the fame of it 
resounded with loud reverberations over wide Asia and 
established her prestige on a firmer basis than over.” 

On his arrival home, Napier was received with great 
enthusiasm. For his services he received the thanks 
of Parliament, and a pension of £2,000 a year. He was 
raised to the Peerage and made a G.C.B. and a G.C.S.I. 
London and Edinburgh conferred upon him the freedom 
of their cities, together with Presentation swords, and 
the Universities bestowed upon him Honorary degrees. 

Mr. Disraeli, at that time Prime Minister, referred 
in Parliament in glowing terms to his magnificent 
exploit, adding that happy was the man who, during 
his career, had thrice received the thanks of Parliament. 

Lord Nupier of Magdala, as he now became, did 
not remain at home for more than a few months. 
He felt it his duty to resume without long delay 
the post of Commandcr-in-Cluef of the Bombay 
Army, believing that the interests of those officers 
who had served with him in the Abyssinian campaign 
might otherwise be neglected, and no General Com¬ 
manding was more careful than Napier that the services 
of those under him should be adequately represented 
for their due rewards. It was not until the summer 
of 1869 that he returned to England, and in 1870 
ho was appointed Commander-in-Chief in India. 




Commander-in-Chief in India—Major Roberts, D.Q.M.G.—Finance 
—Army Reductions—Death of Lord Mayo—Lord Northbrook 
—Russia and Central Asia—Budgot Discussions—Famine— 
Railways—Army Reorganization—Visit of Prince of Wales— 
Departure from India. 

In the preceding chapter, it has been seen that Sir 
Robert Napier, now Lord Napier of Magdala, had 
established his reputation as the foremost soldier of 
the day in the British Army, combining the skill and 
knowledge of the Engineer with the experience of a 
Commander in many theatres of war. To this he 
added a natural gift for diplomacy, and great experi¬ 
ence in affairs of State, acquired when, first as a 
Member, and afterwards as President of the Council 
in India for some years, he had to deal with every 
kind of question relating, not only to military affairs, 
but also to public works, politics and financial matters. 
The brilliant success of the Abyssinian Expedition, 
together with its strange and romantic setting, seized 
upon the imagination of the whole of Europe to such 
an extent that Napier, the most modest and retiring 
of men, almost “ awoke,” like Lord Byron, “ to find 
himself famous.” Immediately on his arrival in 
England, he was commanded by the Queen to Windsor, 
and from that moment commenced an acquaintance 



which ripened into the sincere friendship of nearly 
every member of the Royal Family. Numerous letters 
testify to the degree of intimacy which he enjoyed, 
and which may be ascribed, not to his skill as a courtier, 
so much as to the sterling worth of his character and 
his invariable courtesy displayed alike to people of 
every walk in life. 

A careful study of the Abyssinian campaign shows 
that its successful outcome was the result of no mere 
accident. Never was a campaign more dependent 
upon the exertions of one single man, and that man 
the Commander-in-Chief, who calculated the value of 
every mule-load, the capacity of every water supply, 
consulted the whims and won the support of the 
Abyssinian tribal Chieftains, maintained a high dis¬ 
cipline and at the same time gained the entire confidence 
of the officers and men under his command. If further 
proof were needed, the disastrous experiences of the 
Italians in the same theatre of war, many years later, 
give an idea of what would have happened, had there 
been any serious hitch in the conduct of the campaign. 
But all this implied a very heavy strain of work and 
responsibility, as is evident from the private letters to 
his wife, and the pathetic cry that he “ does not want 
to be Commander-in-Chief in Bengal,” but “ is very 
tired, and wants to be idle.” 

Now that the time has come when he has again 
taken up the reins of office, there is little trace of any 
wish to be idle. He arrives in India some time in 
April, 1870, at once commences his inspections, and is 
soon immersed in the office work which must have 
been very heavy in taking over the Command of the 
Army in India. 

Nevertheless, he is able to write to Sir William Baker 


in March, 1871, on completing a tour in Assam, and 
say that, with few exceptions, he has seen every 
station in tho Army that he did not see in the spring, 
and that he has now made acquaintance with the whole 
Indian frontier from Karachi to Dacca. The Punjab 
he had been familiar with throughout his career, the 
Sind frontier he became acquainted with when Com- 
mander-in-Chief at Bombay, but he could not rest 
until he had traversed the Eastern frontier also. The 
advantage of this soon became evident. The tea- 
planters of Assam had been raided. On the 30th June, 
Napier deplores the abandonment of punitive measures 
by the Government, but by the 14th July they had 
tardily consented to an expedition to punish the Loshai 
marauders. But even then Government had not 
accepted the plans which he had submitted immedi¬ 
ately on his return from Assam, and he disclaims 
responsibility if they are not adopted. Eventually the 
Expedition takes place in the winter of 1871-72, and 
Major Fred. Roberts is sent as Chief Staff Officer with 
the Force. 

Major Roberts, afterwards Earl Roberts of Kandahar, 
had already served under Napier in Abyssinia, where 
his duties in the Q.M.G. Department detained him at 
the base. In his well-known book. Forty-one Years in 
India, Roberts relates his first meeting with Napier 
at the siege of Lucknow, how his reply to Sir James 
Outram regarding the holes made by our engineers in 
the walls of houses and enclosures to admit the passage 
of guns and transport, aroused the ire of a wounded 
officer lying on a couch at the end of the room, who 
asked him, had he measured the width of the holes. 
The wounded officer was Colonel Robert Napier, Chief 
of the Staff to Sir James Outram, and he evidentlv 

7 V 



considered Roberts a very bumptious young subaltern. 
However, Roberts, now a Major in the Quartermaster- 
General’s Department at Head-quarters, was sent to 
Calcutta to organize, equip and despatch the Force 
which ho accompanied. The Expedition, under Briga¬ 
dier Bourchie’r, C.B., was successful. Roberts had 
benefited by his experience in the Abyssinian Expedi¬ 
tion, and Napier was evidently pleased with the manner 
in which he carried out his duties. He was given a 
C.B. on Napier’s recommendation, and was appointed 
Deputy-Quartermaster-General at Head-quarters, 
where he remained during tho whole period of Lord 
Napier’s Command, being appointed Quartermaster- 
General in 1875. 

Writing of this expedition in February, 1872, Napier 

Loshai is going on well, and I hope in another three weeks 
tho parties will have returned successfully. Hitherto it seems 
aB if every jK)int had turned out so as to verify my advice 
and warning. Suppose ordinary infantry of tho plains had 
been sent to cross ranges over 6,000 feet in tho wet and cold, 
or Madrassies from their Southern climate as Norman wanted ! 
One dash of the Goorkhas among the enemy gives a respect 
for our troops that never leaves them. . . . 

Later, in July of the same year, he writes to Baker : 

lam very much obliged to the Indian Government at Home 
for appreciating the assistance I gave. Lord Mayo said that 
everything conceded was done by him with a pistol at his 
head. It was true that I only wrung things by absolutely 
throwing the responsibility of failuro on the Government 
in such a manner as could not be hid. . . . The Foreign 
Department which is utterly contemptible, being vexed because 
their foolish plans were not accepted, reluctantly admit success. 
I was surprised at there being any allusion to the Commander- 
in-Chief in tho Government letter, and most heartily withdraw 


any claims of my own to let full credit accrue to the Com¬ 
manders, Officers and troops of the Expedition. I am fully 
rewarded by their success ; all I want to do is to induce the 
Government to tako a fair look at the things which they 
refused, the consequences of some of them, and to amend 
their ways in future, so that we may not always bo paying 
for experience. 

Though Napier was careful to award praise where 
praise was due, he could on occasion be severe in the 
opposite sense, as the following letter shows: 

I expected that General X. would petition—he is simply 
a fool—he did not do what he was ordered, and hesitated in 
what he was forbidden to do. It was the silly desire of Lord 
Mayo and the Foreign Secretary A. to meddlo and Bend the 
Manipur force. X. had clear instructions from General Bour- 
chier to bring a small force of 500 men, the number being 
fixed by the number of muskets that were available. Ho 
was ordered to go to a certain point and no further; he took 
2,000 men whom he could not feed, and ho led them on to 
a place beyond where he was ordered to go, so between want 
of food and fever, he lost great numbers of men, and had to 
retire juBt when ho might have been of use at his proper post, 
had there been any need of his services at all. Had ho been 
under my orders, I should have brought him to a Court Martial. 
Besides wasting the Manipur Rajah’s means, the mortality 
was very great indeed. The Government of India can forward 
the papers if called for. General Bourchier, now at Home, 
can show the whole case. I have no doubt the Government 
will answer the Memorial satisfactorily. The Rajah was 
thanked for unreservedly placing his whole means at the 
disposal of the Political Agent, who was not thanked for 
misusing them. . . . 

In Napier’s correspondence may be traced the many 
points of interest which absorbed his attention as a 
special member of the Viceroy’s Council—Finance— 
the improvement of Peshawar and other barracks—the 



withdrawal from Gwalior—the Russian advance in 
Central Asia—Persia—the Irrigation Bill—Inspections 
and Camps of Exercise—Fortifications—Army reduc¬ 
tions—the Yarkand Embassy—the Income Tax— 
Jurisdiction of Civil Courts—Discipline—Railways and 
the merits of the broad gauge—the Indian Staff Corps. 

In all these questions Napier had a great deal to say. 
He was not invariably successful in all his protests or 
recommendations, but his influence was very great. 
The fact that his lifelong friend, Sir William Baker, 
was a member of the India Council in London doubtloss 
added to this influence, and gives us at the same time 
an intimate acquaintance with Napier’s own opinions 
on every subject through his constant correspondence 
with one so closely bound to him both officially and 
privately. Added to this, his influence with the Duke 
of Cambridge made his position unassailable in regard 
to purely military affairs, and on other Indian ques¬ 
tions, whether concerned with irrigation, roads, rail¬ 
ways or matters of high strategy, he was himself an 
expert, and few people can have been qualified to 
disputo his knowledge. 

As regards finance, much of Napier’s time throughout 
his career appears to have been taken up in the constant 
fight for funds to enable him to carry on public works 
both military and civil. In his earlier days in the 
Punjab, he was cramped by the economies of John 
Lawrence, and now, as Commander-in-Chief, ho had 
to encounter the efforts, first of Lord Mayo, and then 
of Lord Northbrook to show a credit balance at the 
expenso of the Army and the Public Works. 

Napier’s views on finance are well illustrated by the 
following letter to Lord Mayo, written before he actually 
became Commandcr-in-Chief: 


Umballa, April 3rd, 1869. 

Private and Confidential. 

In considering why fifteen millions of increased revenue 
are nearly balanced by increased expenditure, it is necessary 
to remember that the income from reproductive works has 
hardly commenced to come in ; that increased prosperity brings 
an increase of revenue, but also a rise in all prices of labour! 

The prices of all the products of labour have inoreased 
simultaneously with the increase of prosperity ! The favour¬ 
able years for cotton threw, it is said, forty millions into 
Bombay, which has rendered money cheaper than before. 

The result has been that wo havo boon obliged to give to 
all servants below a certain rate, compensation for the increased 
cost of food, in other words, a sliding soale of inoreased pay! 

Referring to the difference between past and present ex¬ 
penditure, wo shall, on investigation, find that in several 
important branches, the finance Commission and its depart¬ 
ment brought down establishments to suoh a state of in¬ 
efficiency, that hardly had the fictitious economy been taken 
credit for, than it became necessary to incroase them. Stores 
hastily sold “ en masse ” were repurchased at enhanced 
prices. Steamers were sold for small sums, and their places 
were taken very shortly by hired tonnage. 

That much necessary reduction took place, no one than 
I more readily admitted, but it was often insisted on without 
reference to any consideration but the order for reduction to 
a certain amount, and there was in after years an inevitable 

If any honest reduction can be made, let us by all means 
make it, but I trust whatever is dono, will bo dono with the 
higher appointments, and that no step will be taken to un¬ 
settle the Native army, which would be a very serious 

Regarding the shelter of troops, tho improved accom¬ 
modation was tho result of much deliberation, based on the 
experience of many years passed in close contact with the 
soldier—not from hasty visits in a cold-weather morning, but 
from observation of tho effects on the soldier of discomfort 
and mental inaction. 


As the Dalhousie barracks in Fort William reduced the 
mortality from 9£ per cent, to 2\ per cent., or in other words, 
only 25 men died instead of 95, we may say that Lord Dal¬ 
housie saved at least twenty thousand pounds in ton years ! 
even if we pass over the humanity of saving seven hundred 
men. Besides there was the invaliding of worn-out men, and 
thus, it is more probable that the saving, in a pecuniary 
view, was the full cost of the barracks in a very few years. 
This may be an extreme case, but if, in twenty years you cover 
the cost of your barracks, it is in every way a gain. 

I nover feel very much alarmed at Indian Budgets. I 
know that a very little management puts them over or under 
a million or so, and I cannot see why we should make a deficit 
by charging the cost of the Barracks, which will certainly 
last generations, into the very year in which they are built, 
instead of merely paying the interest of the money, and a 
sum to go towards a sinking fund to pay off the barracks in 
a given term of years. 

Who can say how long we shall have a peaceful opportunity 
of completing our necessary works ? 

The Police Force is an excellent preventive measure under 
the shadow of a regular army, but if our army is reduced, 
in any time of trouble, the vast body of armed men spread 
over the country, would not fail to be a source of anxiety, 
especially when the military heads have been virtually cut 
off the body, in order to make room for civil ones. 

I believe much economy might be exorcised in utilising the 
Native Pensioner. 1 

The above letter gives the key-note to many of 

1 This chapter wa3 sent to General Sir W. Birdwood, Com- 
mander-in-Chief in India, by Lieut.-Col. Hon H. Napier for his 
perusal, and the above letter is doubtless the one referred to by him 
in a letter to Lieut.-Colonel Napier, dated Delhi, 4th January, 
1926, as follows : “ The whole correspondence is . . . extra¬ 

ordinarily interesting, and, curiously enough, I have been able to 
quote a paragraph in one letter regarding the possibility of raising 
a loan to improve our men’s lines. It is curious how history 
repeats itself in this way, and T fancy your father’s remarks of 
1869 will rather astonish oui Finance people now.” 


Napier’s views and actions. His ardent desire to 
improve the well-being of the British soldier as the 
truest economy led him to great schemes of barrack 
improvement, not always favourably regarded by 
short-sighted Viceroys. He had no sympathy with 
the penny-wise-and-pound-foolish policy of cutting 
down approved projects after their construction had 
commenced, and leaving material in many cases to rot 
on the ground, in order to balance the Budget or 
produce a fictitious surplus, and so please the Govern¬ 
ment at home. 

An interesting example is that of the barracks at 
Peshawar. In November, 1871, he writes to Baker at 
the India Office and explains the unimprovable condi¬ 
tion on the old cantonments, how the provision of 
double-storied barracks “ to raise men above the 
malaria ” and at the same time form an enclosure that 
would exclude night thieves, would serve the double 
purpose of giving the men fresh air and saving them 
much night duty in a place so notorious for thieves 
and marauders, that it was said one half of the garrison 
had to watch while the other half slept—doubtless an 
exaggeration, but one showing the general tendency. 
In former days, Napier’s roads and canals had con¬ 
tributed largely to the productivity and prosperity of 
the country, and, as he told Lord Mayo, the income 
from reproductive works had hardly commenced to 
come in in 1869. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
a slight deficit in the Indian Budget failed to alarm 

Lord Napier was not pleased with the cession of the 
fort at Gwalior, in the capture of which magnificent 
place he had been present during the Mutiny, and he 
had no great opinion of the steadfastness of the loyalty 


of certain great Indian princes in a time of trouble, 
should such an event occur as the invasion of India 
by the Russians. He pertinently remarks in a letter 
of the 26th September, 1871: “Our treatment of the 
Gwalior State from first to last has been paternal to¬ 
wards a wilful child, stimulated and instigated by artful 
mon about him, who hate us for our supremacy.” And 
again : “ If we withdraw from Gwalior because Seindia 
dislikes the curb on his power, we shall have no better 
reason for not withdrawing from Secunderabad because 
the infant Nizam may want to play at soldiers when 
he gets a little older, or from Mhow, because it threatens 
Indore.” However, in this instance time appears to 
have justified the Government’s action. For many 
years a garrison was kept close to Gwalior at Morar, 
but in later days, thanks to the undoubted loyalty of 
his successor, measures have been taken further to 
emancipate him from British control. 

In the matter of fortifications, Napier writes an 
interesting letter on the 14th March, 1871, in which, 
after stating that he had completed his programme by 
seeing every station in the Army, and by having 
traversed the whole of the Indian frontier from Karachi 
to Dacca, he expresses his conviction that we “ never 
at any time had so little hold of India. We have no 
root, no place in the affections of the people, no fortified 
places. . . . The result of my observations and reflec¬ 
tions is that when the day of trial comes upon us, our 
collapse will be as complete and sudden as that of 

Succeeding generations of Britons will do well to 
ponder these words of Napier, and guard against any 
such possibility. Napier had seen many wars in India, 
had been through the Indian Mutiny thirteen years 


before, and the collapse of France from her high estate 
was still fresh in his memory. With the as yet in¬ 
definite threat of the advance of a great Military Power 
towards the Indian frontier, it is not surprising that 
he devoted both time and energy towards supplying 
some fortified places at important strategic points in 
India, and especially on the line of her sea communica¬ 
tions with the Motherland. That he was not able to 
accomplish as much in this direction as he had hoped, 
he ascribes, as will be seen later, in some degree to 
the Famine, but more to the obstructive tactics of the 
Military Member of Council under the direction of the 

Plans for the reorganization of the Army in India 
were looked upon by Napier with great suspicion. 
Under the guise of most of them he detected the desiro 
rather to reduce the strength of the army than to 
improve it. Under Lord Mayo they were simply plans 
for reduction in order to reduce expenditure. In May, 
1871, he writes to Baker: “ Lord Mayo and Norman 
(Military Member of Council), I believe, continue to 
cherish their plans of reduction, and the Secretary of 
State, by the plan of referring back to them, manages 
to elude the opposition of your Council.” During the 
previous year, Napier had been involved “ in the 
unwelcome task of maturing schemes for reductions in 
Army expenditure,” in which he confessed that he had 
not made much way, and some of which he had been 
able to defeat. He declares that “ Lord Mayo’s pro¬ 
ceedings are disclosed as systematic hostility to every 
military charge.” 

That Napier was no reactionary in military matters, 
but quite the contrary, is shown by his keenness in 
training tho Army for war by camps of exercise, first 


initiated in India, by him, and inspections, some of the 
latter being unexpected and informal. From Assam he 
writes : 

I am sure my visits to stations and isolated Corps have 
done much good. Zeal has been stimulated and industry 
encouraged. All have felt that 1 have a real interest in them, 
and that I know now enough of the officers personally to dis¬ 
criminate between those specially deserving and others. I 
know also, bettor than before, the value of the opinions of 
those on whom I have been obliged to rely for the fitness of 
officers. And csjxscially I believe 1 have given a good stimulus 
and direction to Field Exercise, leading Commanding Officers 
not to be glued to their parade grounds, but to shake out 
their regiments in the open country, and make use of the 
intellects of their officers. 

At the present time this sounds like a commonplace, 
but Napier was the original reformer. 

“ It has been only a beginning to let me see what is 
wanted, but if I should have health to remain, I hope, 
in the course of my Command, to keep pace with the 
military pace of the day in other places.” But in 
this respect Napier was in advance of it. 

By July, 1871, Napier had succeeded in obtaining 
two lacs of rupees for a Camp of Instruction at Delhi 
during the ensuing cold weather—a most unexpected 
piece of liberality, somewhat marred, however, by 
petty economies at the instance of the Military Mem¬ 
ber of Council, such as the refusal to bring up Madras 
and Bombay officers except at thoir own expense, so 
few could afford to come as spectators. 

The camp proved a great success. Napier writes : 
“ The country for our operations was everything that 
could be desired. Everyone entered into the affair 
'heart and soul, and this extended to the rank and file. 


The only malcontents were, I believe, a few idle men 
who prefer idleness and writing to the papers rather 
than real work. . . . The weather has been rainy to 
a degreo quite unprecedented, but the health has been 
very good, and of 16,000 men, one man only has been 
tried by a District Court Martial.” 

In another letter he says : “ There is a strong band 
of book soldiers who cry out and write and criticise. 
One of them as D.A.Q.M.G. put his Division into low 
ground, and had it swamped in the rain, although he 
was a theoretical authority. ...” 

During July of this year he is also occupied with the 
railway question, and writes as follows: 

I send you a copy of my Memo, regarding the Indus Valley 
Line. I have given a more full report also of which I have 
not a copy ready. I should bo tempted to accept a narrow 
gauge, if I believed we should get it a few years sooner, but 
I fear, either way, we shall be a long time before we get either 
one or the other. For Indian purposes the narrow gauge 
would be at present only un experiment, particularly as 
regards the carriages for the hot weather travelling. The 
other gauge we know, and the advantages of concentrating 
the rolling stock of all the broad gauge for an emergency 
outweigh other considerations. But I should be Btrongly 
tempted to put a narrow from Jbelum to Peshawar, or from 
Rawul-Pindi to Peshawar, if there is to be any delay in ordering 
the line on to Peshawar, so as to be able to support Peshawar 
immediately, but if the broad gauge will be ordered on to 
Peshawar at once, I should of courso prefer to see this system 
completed, leaving the narrow gauge for any minor systems, 
feeders and cross lines. 

Another very important question was dealt with by 
Napier at this time. He inherited from Sir William 
Mansfield, the late Commander-in-Chief, a list of officers 
that could not be entrusted with military command. 



They were not fit to have regiments, but, remaining 
at stations fell into command by seniority. It was 
necessary to prevent this, but in doing so he sanctioned 
rather a harsh order, that they might leave if they did 
not like serving under their juniors, but could not quit 
their stations. He writes: “ This I did not notico, 
and it is very hard. I shall certainly let them go where 
they please. It would be an infinite relief if they might 
go and live at home with a small addition to their 
English pay, until their succession to their pension or 
‘ off reckonings.’ It is absurd keeping men here whom 
we will not employ.” 

The tragic assassination of Lord Mayo in February, 
1872, when on a visit to the Andaman Islands, put an 
end to a regime that Napier did not altogether appreci¬ 
ate. Though the Viceroy had favoured his scheme for 
a Camp of Exercise, he was persistent in pressing for 
army reductions of wliich Napier did not approve. 
In writing to Baker at the India Office, Napier says: 
“ I drew out most reluctantly on the part of the 
Secretariat the telegrams asking to reduce the Cavalry. 
I am so glad you declined. Advantage was taken of 
my absence from the Council to abolish so much that 
had been resolved in favour of the soldier, that I am 
satisfied they cannot stand. I was really excluded 
from the Council. . . .” 

It is interesting to note, however, that at this time 
there must have been some question of Napier succeed¬ 
ing Lord Mayo as Viceroy. In a letter of the 15th 
March, 1872, he writes to Baker: 

I quite agree with your feelings, we must forgot differences 
of opinion, and remember only the fine qualities of the man. 
It is a very sad warning of the uncertainty of everything here. 
How little one thought, when he left my tent, that we should 


never see him again ! I was about the last to say good-bye 
to poor Lady Mayo at the station. She seemed to feel going 
at the last very much. 

I am gratified at what you say of the feelings at the India 
Office regarding myself. I not only never had a thought that 
it was probable, but I had no desire to enter on a course 
which requires a man ten years younger. I dare say I could 
have done some good, but then I should have found opposition, 
and many who forgive one for being second, could never forgive 
being first—I mean, of the Indian Services. But, as I say, 
the probability never entered my mind for a moment, and I 
laughed at the suggestion of friends here. If there had been 
a difficult war pending, it might have been otherwise. I used 
always to hope that no crisis might come. 1 In the small 
matter of the Loshai exjxjdition, I had been able to get through 
foolish opposition ; in a moro serious matter I might havo 

There are many rumours now afloat arising, no doubt, from 
Lord Mayo’s assassination; one is that at the Mohurram all 
the Mahomedans are to rise and kill all the Europeans when 
the soldiers aro at church on the 18th. Only the Mahomedans 
aro to do this, to begin at Benares ! The Sikhs are to do 
something of the kind at Gwalior, where there are not 200. 
I do not think it is a proper time for reducing our army, 
though I attach no importance to these silly stories. 

As at tho time of Lord Elgin’s death, the Governor 
of Madras was summoned to act as temporary Viceroy, 
This was now Lord Napier of Merchiston, the head of 
the Napier family, created Baron Ettrick of Ettrick 
the same year, presumably in order to distinguish him 
from Lord Napier of Magdala. 

Napier writes from Calcutta on March 1, 1872: 

Since I wrote to you I have seen tho acting Viceroy, whom 
I am disposed to like very much. I have seen him only 
twice, once I called, and we rode out together, and onco in 
Council, when we had a long discussion, in which he showed 

1 During Lord Mayo’s Viceroyalty. 



both dignity and temper—suavity I should say. I do not 
know what his advantages over me are in other mattors, but 
in good looks I must confess that my branch of the Napiers 
in my own person falls very short. On the other hand I think 
my sons and daughters aro better-looking than his. His 
face is very pleasant. . . . 

The arrival of Lord Northbrook, the incoming 
Viceroy, took place about May, 1872. Napier writes 
from Simla: 

About Lord Northbrook—I havo seen but little of him ; 
that little I liko, both publicly and privately. In Council 
he expedited business, and his view of such cases as have 
come before him have been generally sound. I of course 
approve of his views of the conduct of the Military Depart¬ 
ment, of which I think I wrote you something in my last letter. 
But it really must bo very difficult for a Viceroy at first to 
escape being fooled by the burst of adulation that greets him. 
From having been a hard-worked under-strapper at the War 
Office, to como here and find himself received with a chorus 
of praise and credit that he had not dreamed of. The Press 
and Public worship him because he is wealthy—the Mombers 
of Council and Secretaries worship him to find out his weak 
points, and to make him believe in them. I can fancy a new 
Viceroy rubbing his eyes and pulling his hair to find out if 
he is really the same man that was puzzled and snubbed about 
the Control Department. Strachoy is now applying the 
poultice to him that he did to Lord Mayo. I hope he may not 
be successful. 

In July, Napier says: 

I find Lord Northbrook very reasonable, he seems desirous 
to have my opinion, and gives it due weight so far as wo have 
gone. His Staff who are of the New School interest themselves 
in Army questions, and are all in the line of improvement 
of Indian as well as British officers. I am very glad to be so 
helped, and am quite ready to keep pace with any improve¬ 
ments. I have said that the Indian Officers will be quite 



as ready as British Officers to tako advantage of as much 
education as the Government will provide for them. . . . 

For the first six months all went well. But in 
March, 1873, Lord Northbrook first propounded his 
ideas which were not to Napier’s liking, and by July 
of that year they had received definite shape. Napier, 
in 1871, had written that “ our only power in India 
is our British Army, and it is a sure game for any needy 
or scheming Commander-in-Chief to gain the goodwill 
of the Govemmont by proposing reductions and pro¬ 
claiming that they are merely readjustments involving 
no loss of strength.” Lord Northbrook, as Under¬ 
secretary for War, must already havo been involved 
in Mr. Cardwell’s Reorganization Scheme of 1872 for 
the British Army, and doubtless came to India pledged 
both to retrenchment and reform. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that they did not long remain in agreement. 

Napier writes to Baker on the 14th July 1873: 

At length the secret is out. The Viceroy sent me a paper 
containing his views on, really army reductions—ostensibly 
army reform. There is at the beginning much assumption 
which I dispute ; he depreciates the Native Army unfairly 
■—considers it merely fit to meet the ordinary troops of tho 
Native States of India, and accopts tho exaggerated views 
of the discontented class. He proposes what was proposed 
to me when I came—to club three regiments into a brigade, 
to localise the Headquarters in the District, if possible, from 
whenoe recruiting is to take place. The officers are to bo 
promoted on one regimental list, passing from battalion to 
battalion as promoted—an officer to each company. 

Napier objected to this as entirely upsetting existing 
arrangements, objected to the constant changing of 
officers which Native troops very particularly dislike, 
and to Native officers being pushed back from the com- 



mand of their companies. Also a regiment is apt to 
acquire local ties and imbibe the religious or political 
feelings of the neighbourhood, not at all to be desired in 
India, where, after the Mutiny, different classes and races 
had to be mixed and isolated. Such a brigade, Napier 
pointed out, would be united in feeling as regards them¬ 
selves, but greatly disunited as regards their officers. 
Fortunately the India Office supported Napier, and by 
August, 1874, Lord Northbrook professed to have 
abandoned tho idea of any extensive reorganization. 
In fact, the time for reorganization was not yet ripe. 
Too short a time had passed sinco the Mutiny, and it 
waB not until 1891 that Lord Roberts, when Com- 
mander-in-Chief in India, increased tho number of class 
regiments, and inaugurated a system of linked bat¬ 
talions in groups of three battalions—a measuro justi¬ 
fied in his opinion by the then greater strength of 
the British Army, and tho increased means of 
rapid communication. 

Meanwhile in October, 1872, when both Viceroy and 
Commander-in-Chief left Simla on their extended tours, 
Napier had met Lord Northbrook at Mooltan, where 
there was a question of the erection of a small fort on a 
better site than that hitherto chosen. “ I have advised 
a small strong work w r hich may serve as a nucleous for 
a larger work when the possible invasion of India may 
render it advisable. I parted on very friendly terms 
with Lord Northbrook. I. cannot say what the pressure 
of finance or of advisors nearer at hand may incline 
him to, but he seems prepared to take a reasonable 
view of military wants. He is willing to completo 
properly the huge barracks which have been built, 
and to consider fairly the wants educational and 
material of soldiers.” 


Thence Napier proccoded to inspect the site for a 
new Hill station at Murree, and superintended a Camp 
of Exercise in the Indus Valley between Rawal-Pindi 
and Peshawar. The camp turned out well, the troops, 
much improvod since the previous year, tried the new 
drill, opinions being much divided. Napier remarks: 

There certainly is no ground yet for discontinuing the Line 
formation—on the contrary, I think its merits are brought 
more into relief. It never was tried in the Franco-Prussian 
war, only columns against s kirmi shers, or against troops 
under cover. The tactics of Wellington which scribblers 
denounce as out of date, were lines against columns, and 
they treated the column as tho Prussian tactics did the French 
columns, and as the French troops, under cover, treated 
Prussian columns, until they were tumod by superior numbers. 
After the French veterans were out of tho Field, it seemed 
to matter little what the French levies did—thoy were beaten 
in overy way, and without ceremony. . . . Much is made 
of the collision between the Native troops : it was the fault 
of the Officers not having properly explained the orders to 
their men ; and tho frontier regiments being very wild. The 
Pathans in their natural state resort to stone-throwing just 
as English schoolboys do. . . , Our review at the close of 
tho camp was very successful—great numbers of tho Frontier 
Chiefs came down to see it, and I havo no doubt the political 
effect will be very good. 

About this time Napier paid a visit to Runbeer 
Singh, the Maharajah of Kashmir at Jammoo. 

The morning after our arrival, he had a drive of wild animals 
for us. It would have been nicer without the shooting, which 
was rather a shamo when the poor creatures clustered about 
the machan . 1 The only animals that seemed to know there 
was no grace for them were the pigs which hurtled by rapidly. 
The Dogras, the Maharajah’s clan, make fierce war on them 
and eat them greedily. I was obliged to shoot two or three 

1 Screened seat tied up in the branches of a tree. 


wretched animals as I was rapidly sinking into discredit. I 
told the Maharajah that I was by no means angry even with 
the pigs, but he was jealous for my honour, and contrived, 
I believe, to kill one and said it was mo. A much more interest¬ 
ing sight was his “ force ” the next day—two capital infantry 
regiments and his bodyguard, well-dressed and well commanded, 
by men who had been in our service. . . . 

Tho gamekeeper at one of his country visits at home, 
after Abyssinia, may almost be pardoned, in his 
ignorance of Napier’s kindly disposition, for the remark: 
“ Bless you ’o don’t care for our sort of shooting, ’e 
only likes to shoot men ! ” 

Frequent allusions are made in Lord Napier’s corre¬ 
spondence to the Russians whose progress he watched 
with the eye of a connoisseur. The Black Sea Con¬ 
ference was held in London in 1871, in consequonco of 
Russia having torn up the Black Sea Treaty, and the 
advance of Russia upon Khiva took place in 1873, 
when Lord Granville was Minister for Foreign Affairs. 
Napier says in February, 1873 : 

We have been looking over maps to see what the Rnssia- 
Granville boundary means. Russia as usual takes a good 
step forward. She would bo much impeded and put to expense 
and delay, if wc were to support the peoplo who still resist 
her with arms, money and volunteers even. And she will 
temporise and be civil. As soon as Khiva is disposed of, and 
she is firmly established there, it will not bo difficult to find 
cause of offence against the Afghans and their borderers, 
who are not much under any control, and we shall bo unable 
to offer good reasons to the contrary. In any time of difficulty 
we shall find that our feudatories have been tampered with. 
Under tho financial and reducing policy, wo shall be found 
with insufficient forces, with our long lines of communication 
from tho frontier to the sea, unsupported by properly secured 
posts. Whether the event comes ten years or twenty years 
hence, I believe the result will be the same. 


As early as 1871 Napier had news, through the 
report of a Native officer travelling from Kabul to 
Turkistan, of Russian doings in Central Asia, of a 
force of 7,000 well-disciplined and war-tried men at 
Samarkand, of 50,000 men at Tashkend, and of a 
Shah at Bokhara under Russian tutelage. On the 
Native officer’s return to Kabul, the Amir of Afghanis¬ 
tan made him relato what he had seen and heard, 
and was able to corroborate his news from his own 
news-writers. The Amir said: “ They are at no dis¬ 
tance from my frontier, there is only the river Amur 
between us—indeed, a few are on this side of the river. 
I am at a loss to understand what the English Govern¬ 
ment thinks of this state of things, and what their 
views are. Although I myself have communicated 
with them on the subject, they do not seem anxious 
to arrest the progress of such a formidable adversary.” 

Lord Napier evidently had had some difficulty in 
persuading Lord Mayo of the truth concerning Russia’s 
movements in Central Asia, for on June 20, 1871, he 

I must add another of Lord Mayo’s ideas, that Gortchakoff 
tells him everything that the Russians are doing in Central 
Asia. The - state of Afghanistan is unfortunate, everything 
seems to combine against our having permanent influence 
in that country. We may hear of a Russian officer at Herat 
any day. 

Later on, Lord Napier’s remarkable prescience in 
regard to Afghan affairs can be traced in his corre¬ 
spondence. Referring to the Seistan Boundary Com¬ 
mission, which he afterwards quoted as one of the 
causes of the war with Afghanistan some years later, 
he wrote in July, 1872: 


Nothing of importance has come up except Seistan Boundary 
affairs. Tho proceedings of General Goldsmid seem to me 
very weak, and if we proceed to arbitrate when our Com¬ 
missioner was prevented from seeing the oountry, we shall 
eat much dirt. The Persian Commissioner was most insolent, 
but, like the Alabama Commissioners, General Goldsmid 
seems to think he must not let his Mission be an empty one, 
and as Afghanistan is further off, it may be thought that she 
can easily be made to accept our decision, but it will be far 
otherwise. If you give an Afghan twenty favours and one 
refusal, he forgets the first and never forgives the last. 

A letter of the 8th August, 1873, points to further 
aggressiveness on the part of Russia, and in his Memor¬ 
andum on Persia, given in the Appendix, it is shown 
how Sher Ali, the Afghan Amir who came to meet 
Lord Mayo at Umballa in 1872, might have been 
converted into an ally by different treatment. Again 
in 1873, the Amir’s Mission to India failed, Lord 
Northbrook having interposed in favour of the Amir’s 
son, Yakub Khan, then a prisoner. Napier remarks 
with reference to this affair in a letter of the 13th 
September, 1873, that the Kabul Envoy had gone off 
with ten lacs of rupees and 15,000 rifles without giving 
any quid pro quo on the part of the Amir, and thinks 
“ We had better exchange Foreign Departments ! ” 

Then, in 1874, in a letter dated October 20, to the 
Duke of Cambridge, Napier says : 

The conduct of Sher Ali has certainly been uncivil if not 
unfriendly. ... I was inclined to attribute tho refusal to 
allow Sir D. Forsyth to return 1 via Kabul to a real apprehen¬ 
sion for the safety of the party, but his additional and gratuitous 
affront would lead me to believe that he is resenting our 
Seistan arbitration. That the Afghan Government would 

1 From a Mission to Yarkand. 


do so, was foreseen by a part at least of the Government . 1 . . . 
The Foreign Office, not appreciating tho situation, and under¬ 
rating the Afghan side of the question, would not allow Col. 
Pollock who went on the Afghan side to have any voice, but 
placed the whole power of deciding in the hands of Col. Gold- 
smid who knew nothing of the Afghan claims, and who allowed 
himself to be bullied by the Persian Commissioner and 
prevented from visiting the boundary to make enquiries. It 
would have been far better to have let them fight it out. 
The rumours of a Russian trading mission to Kabul would 
give colour to the idea that Sher Ali is disgusted with our 
lukewarm advocacy, and is trying to conciliate the Russian.” 

And this is what actually happened. Lord Roberts, 
in his Forty-one Years in India, gives a very clear 
account of the steps which gradually led up to the 
Afghan War. The danger of standing aloof from 
Afghanistan had been emphasized by Sir Bartle Frere, 
and Lord Lytton who had replaced Lord Northbrook 
in 1876, at once demanded to send an envoy to Kabul. 
The Amir demurred, flirted with the Russians, and 
matters went from bad to worse. Finally, in 1878, 
after Russia had concluded the war with Turkey, and 
was able again to turn her attention to India and 
Afghanistan, the report of a Russian Mission of im¬ 
portance to Kabul, forced the Viceroy to despatch a 
similar Mission from the British side under General Sir 
Neville Chamberlain, Commander-in-Chief of Madras. 
This Mission being refused entry, led to the Afghan War. 
When Roberts reached Kabul in 1879, he found that 
the Amir had been welcoming Russia there since the 
failure of the 1873 Mission, and that the town had 
become “ Russianized.” 

Thus was developed the long series of British and 
Russian rivalries in Central Asia. There were many 
1 Vide Appendix—Minute by Lord Napier on Persia. 


wiseheads who ridiculed the idea that there was ever 
cause for anxiety about the Russian advance in Central 
Asia, but those who have been behind the scenes 
know that the danger was very real at all times, and 
sometimes became acute even after the Afghan War. 
It was openly acknowledged by Russian Commanders 
such as Skobeleff, that Russia would never have 
penetrated the desert wastes of Central Asia, had there 
not existed the lure of a wealthy India boyond, and 
had we not consistently opposed Russia in the direction 
of Constantinople. The North-West frontier of India 
was our “ tendon Achilles,” and the Russians knew 
it; indeed, we never ceased from telling them so. 
A secret report from one of our most distinguished 
officers in India, the late Sir C. MacGregor, fell into 
Russian hands, and gave them many useful hints as 
to how to get to India. Russian railways and harbours 
connecting Russia in Europe with Central Asia, were 
carefully constructed, before the close of the nineteenth 
century, with a view to the rapid transport of a much 
greater force than could ever have been required to 
operate against the people of Central Asia. At times, 
the bazars of India quivered with excitement at the 
news of what proved to be a mere change of garrison 
of Russian posts near the Afghan frontier, and this 
state of affairs continued until 1907, when the Anglo- 
Russian Agreement came into being. 

This great relief to India was attained, thanks in 
the first placo to the crushing defeat of Russia by the 
Japanese, and in the second place to the efforts of 
the two Governments represented at St. Petersburg 
by M. Isvolsky, Russian Foreign Minister, and Sir 
Arthur Nicolson, 1 British Ambassador. Their efforts 
1 Lord Camock. 


would, however, have proved fruitless, according to 
Mr. Steed, The Times correspondent, in his valuable 
Memoirs, had it not been for the special intervention 
of the Czar Nicolas II. 

But more than once during that period, wo came 
very near to operations against the Russians both in 
Europe and Asia. 

Lord Napier’s Memorandum on Persia already 
referred to (vide Appendix) recommends the acceptance 
of the Shah’s request for the moral and material 
support of Great Britain, including the loan of British 
officers to organize the Persian Army, The British 
Government unfortunately did not seize this oppor¬ 
tunity, but adopted one of his recommendations in 
placing a main post of observation at Meshed, under 
the direction of a British Military officer, and a Con¬ 
sulate-General was subsequently established, which 
proved of great utility. 

A letter from Napier to the Duke of Cambridge, 
dated 13th May, 1875, says : 

The question of Persia has been before the Government 
here. Lord Northbrook is averse to anything being done, 
and takes a view diametrically opposite to mine. Ho sent 
his opinion privately to Lord Salisbury without our knowing 
it, and while the several members of the Government were 
reading through a small chest of voluminous records. Having 
sent in his own opinion, I imagine there will be no particular 
anxiety to send on any adverse ones, and there is no saying 
when the composite Government opinion may reach the 
India Office. I have therefore sent a copy of my own opinion 
for Your Royal Highness’ information. 

That Lord Napier, assisted by his Quartermastet- 
General, made a careful study of the future theatre 
of war, is shown by his correspondence. Sir Charles 



Staveley writes to Lord Napier that as Commander-in- 
Chief of the Bombay army ho has received a demand 
from the Viceroy, through the Governor of Bombay, 
to furnish a report as to moving an army to Herat in 
case of need. Ho adds : “I propose telling him, if 
you have no objection, that you were good enough to 
let me see a very complete plan you had drawn up on 
the subject, and which you were about to forward to 
him. That I conclude therefore that any information 
from me is now unnecessary, but if it is necessary, such 
as the means of providing transport, provisions, etc., 
for the column you propose should start from Jacoba- 
bad, in this Presidency, and which I noted should 
consist of 30,000 men and 92 guns, I should be glad to 
collect it.” 

Amongst Lord Napier’s papers is also a very interest¬ 
ing document, presumably received from the British 
Foreign Office, dated September, 1851, containing a 
translation from a German work, Oeschichie Peters des 
Grossen, by Edward Peltz, Leipzig, which purports to 
give Peter tho Great’s will as transmitted by the 
French Ambassador at St. Petersburg to the King of 
France in 1757, and shortly afterwards made public. 
The will itself is said to be deposited in the archives of 
the Palace of Peterhof, near St. Petersburg, and among 
official circles in Russia was well known to exist before 
the Great War. 

Opinions differ as to the authenticity of the will, 
but as the preamble says : 

Independently of its authenticity there is much intrinsic 
interest in the document as embodying principles of action 
which have been notoriously followed by Russia during the 
last 100 years, with such modifications as timo and circum¬ 
stances, and the variations of European equilibrium have 


rendered necessary. The ninth rule is especially worthy of 
attention at the present moment. 

9th. We must approach as much as possible to Con¬ 
stantinople and towards India. He who can onoe get posses¬ 
sion of those places and reigns there, will be the real sovereign 
of the world. With this view we must provoke ceaseless 
wars, and suggest constant quarrels, at one time with Turkey, 
and at another time with Persia. We must establish docks 
and wharves in the Euxino, and by degrees make ourselves 
masters of and possess the sea entirely as woll as the Baltic, 
which is a doubly important element to the success of our plan. 

Wo must hasten the downfall of Persia, push on into the 
Persian Gulf—if possible re-establish the ancient commercial 
intercourse with the Levant through Syria, and force our 
way into the Indies which are tho store houses of the world. 
Onco there, we can dispenso with the gold of England. 

Lord Napier’s views at this timo on the strategical 
problem of the North-West frontier of India are well 
shown in his letter of the 8th May, 1874, to the Duke 
of Cambridge as follows: 

Your Royal Highness asks my opinion regarding the question 
of Afghanistan and particularly Herat. I used to think that 
we might safely await our enemy in India, but the progress 
of Russia has been so different from what was expected, she 
has advanced so methodically, bringing up her communications 
so regularly in her rear, and habilitating herself so firmly, 
that by the time she arrives on our borders, she will not be 
easily pushed away. I am now therefore inclined to meet 
her in Afghanistan, if she touches it, and to proceed against 
her at once if she occupies any more of Persia, or any part of 

For this we ought to bo prepared, our army ought to be 
ready, our railways completed to the foot of the Bolan and 
Khyber passes. Our transport should have a more organised 
care—and our Native army should have some more reasons 
to bo quite contented with the servico ; that is, we should 
be able to command tho best class of men. I do not think 



Russia should be allowed to advance a step nearer. Lord 
Northbrook, I think, does not believe in the danger, though 
I may be mistaken. I am of opinion that in dealing with 
our frontiers we should proceed without the least reference 
to what may be said by Russia. Our Khelat frontier requires 

After the first successful Camp of Exercise at Delhi 
in 1871-72, and that on the N.W. Frontier in tho 
following winter, camps were held all over the country, 
the Commander-in-Chief visiting them in turn. In 
the winter of 1871-72, Roberts, as D.Q.M.G., accom¬ 
panied him on his tour, and in remarking in his auto¬ 
biography how much Lord Napier did to improve the 
army by means of Camps of Exercise, adds: “ No 
Commander-in-Chicf ever carried out inspections more 
thoroughly than did Lord Napier.” 

To a person conversant with Indian geography, the 
programme of his tour in 1873-74, as contained in his 
letter of 9th October, 1873, shows that he included in 
one winter tour stations in the Himalayas, the N.W. 
Provinces and the presidencies both of Bombay and 
Madras, finishing up with Central India, so that with 
exception of the Punjab, he travelled over nearly the 
whole of India in the course of a few months ! 

Concerning administration, an instance of Napier’s 
high moral standard is well shown in the case of the 
deposition of the Gaekwar of Baroda. In his official 
Minute of the 29th June, 1874, Napier says: 

I should be extremely sorry to see it put forward in any 
degree in extenuation, that tho shameful abuses that have 
been brought to notice, will be found to exist in an equal or 
worse degree in any Native State in the Empire. If it is so, 
it is very much to the discredit of the British Government 
-and its Political Department that things should go on under 


the cover of British bayonets, without being the subject of 
the most urgent advice and remonstrance by the Political 
Officer. The way in which these abuses are alluded to, would 
argue that they are of small consequence and not to be 
interfered with. 

A pencil note in Lord Napier’s handwriting adds: 
“ This was tho false argument supplied to palliate 
matters, and depreciated Phayre’s report.” General 
Phayre was the British Political Resident at Baroda, 
and his adverse report on the conduct of the Gaekwar, 
had not been appreciated by the Foreign Department. 

Tho Mutiny had caused a heavy deficit in the 
Indian Budget, and the revenue, derived chiefly from 
land, opium, salt and a few Customs duties, not being 
sufficiently elastic, had to be raised. It was therefore 
decided in 1859 to introduce, among other items of 
taxation, an Income tax. This policy, at first approved, 
and afterwards regretted by the Homo Government, 
was opposed by Sir Charles Trevelyan, who, eventually 
as Financial Member of Council, with support from 
Government, succeeded in obtaining an equilibrium 
by the reduction both of military expenditure and 
taxation. As has been seen in a former chapter, 
Napier, as Military Member of Council, had strenuously 
opposed this policy, well knowing that for every 
reduction in taxation both the Army and the Public 
Works had to suffer. 

Up to tho present, however, the Income tax had 
survived, and it soon became apparent that Lord 
Northbrook was bont on abolishing it. Historians 
have described this tax as having been both a burden 
on the Indian people and insignificant in value. Such 
was not Napier’s view. On April 5, 1872, he wrote: 
“ We have finished the Budget discussions; the 


surplus which seemed so favourable has diminished at 
the last so seriously, that, but for the Incomo tax which 
it is determined to keep on, there would be a deficit. 
... I am in favour of the tax. I should be glad 
to have the extra £100 a year which the tax takes 
from me, but I am glad the tax is maintained. . . .” 
As a matter of fact, it was not the inhabitants of 
India who were relieved by its abolition, but the 
European merchants, and the small but rapacious class 
of Indian traders. And a letter from Sir R. Temple, 
at this time Financial Member of Council, stated that 
the Income tax amounted to nearly £600,000, and 
begged for Lord Napier’s presence in Council for 
support in opposing its abolition. 

However, a letter from Napier, dated 16th April, 
1873, announced that the Viceroy had decided to 
abolish the tax on his own responsibility, and so 
informed the Council. 

He was reminded that the exercise of his authority was 
only necessary when there was a majority of Council against 
him, and he had not put the question. This put out his 
proceeding which was rather theatrical, but it turned out 
that he had a majority. Mr. Hobhouse, who had strongly 
defended the Income tax, when it came to the vote voted with 
the Viceroy, so no exercise of supreme authority was necessary. 
Ellis, Temple and I have recorded our Minutes, of which the 
two last have given offenco, though they only contain what 
we believe and know to be truths that have been commonly 
put forth in discussing the question. . . . 

On this occasion Lord Northbrook had ordered the 
Public Works budget for original works in Bengal to 
be cut down to 10 lacs, and only on Lord Napier’s 
pressing remonstrance, supported by the Council had 
given £120,000 more. In the same manner other things 


were limited to enable him to have a nominal surplus, 
and the wants of the troops were consequently neg¬ 
lected for another year. 

During the ensuing winter Napier paid a visit to 
the Madras Presidency, and was agreeably surprised 
to find the Madras troops so efficient, the Native 
Infantry well drilled and smart in the Field. He 
entirely dissented from the wholesale condemnation 
of them which had taken place, nor did he approve 
of the new proposals for abolishing the Commander-in- 
Chiefships of Madras and Bombay, and for dividing 
India into a series of small commands on the model of 
Prussia. “ What is the extent and population of 
Prussia compared to our Indian Empire ? The Com- 
mander-in-Chief, even to see his army, must travel 
many thousands of miles in the year, and would then 
fail in seeing one half of his troops,” said Napier, who 
was himself indefatigable in that respect. 

On the 12th February, 1874, he writes to say that 
his horse had fallen back with him on rising out of 
a nullah, and rolled over him, which laid him up for 
several weeks, just as he was concluding his inspections 
at Hyderabad, on his way back to Bengal. Rumours 
of famine now began to be heard. At first Napier is 
sceptical and writes: “ The famine, I fear, presses, 
since all Public Works expenditure is reduced, and no 
reliefs or Camps of Exercise are to take place. Is 
the pressure so severe, or is the famine, like Caleb 
Balderstone’s fire, to cover all reductions desired, to 
please the newspapers and Calcutta merchants ? It 
is better this should be the reason rather than famine 

Soon however he is convinced, and by the beginning 
of March, 1874, writes: “ Relief arrangements are 


already in progress regarding the famine; there will 
bo hard work to get them completed in time, but there 
is hope. The worst district is 100 miles from the 
Ganges ; I am giving officers and soldiers in every 
direction to aid in organizing relief works.” A week 
later he writes again : “I have considered it my duty 
to give every aid at once without hesitation—officers— 
regiments—men—selected for diitics of organization, 
etc.—the whole army, if necessary to ward off a greater 
calamity than war.” 

But by April Napier writes: “ The famine has as 
yet developed no severity, but every nerve of Govern¬ 
ment is strained to avert it—about 800,000 people 
now are fed at the famine works ” ; and on the 15th 
May: “ Temple says that the Government arrange¬ 
ments have got ahead of the famine. The scurrilous 
public declare that there is no famine and that the 
abuse of the relief works is flagrant; that Government 
will be as much embarrassed to dispose of the grain as 
they have been to get it brought up in time. Of course, 
there will be abuses, and when people are working with 
a rope round their necks, the other end of which is in 
the hands of an excited British public, to be pulled 
if there is any famine suffering, they will spend any¬ 
thing rather than be found to have left anything 
undone.” Napier concludes that “ the Government 
have acted for the best, have not gone to the extent 
that England would have urged it to, but have done 
so much that half the world will accuse them of 
extravagance, if they succeed in preventing demonstra¬ 
tions of famine distress.” And yet at this time anti- 
British propaganda in Russia accused us of having 
deliberately fostered famine in India in order to kill 
off a too numerous population. The writer, when 


Military Attach^ at St. Petersburg, many years 
later, found this belief prevalent among well-educated 
Russian officers. 

Finally, Napier writes in October of the same year, 
1874: “ I have been much disappointed that no 
notice has been taken of the troops in the Famine. 
The Viceroy has praised Temple and the Civilians 
and the Secretary of State has praised the Viceroy, 
but the Native Troops who have behaved admirably, 
have been unnoticed. If I can only get an opinion 
from the Civil Authorities, I shall thank the officers 
and men in General Orders.” 

The railway question, already mentioned in the 
previous chapter, continued to drag on. The experi¬ 
ence of the famine emphasized the evils of a break of 
gauge, and in March, 1874, Napier wrote to Baker: 

I have sent for the railway gauge papers. ... I hope 
the case is not finally settled ; now that Lord Salisbury is 
at the India Office, he surely will not allow the opinion of 
the Indian Government to be buried in the unfair way in which 
it was by the Duke (of Argyll). It is impossible to travel as 
I have done without being deeply sensible of the evils of a 
break of gauge. Imagine one just in front of the famino 
districts, going to Hyderabad ; tho folly it would have been 
to break the gauge at the junction of the G.I.P. is most striking, 
and through the absurd folly of Ellis, the evil is intended 
between Agra and Delhi. I do hopo you will have influence 
with Lord Salisbury to stop the prosecution of the narrow gauge 
beyond Lahore. If anyone were to call for the correspondence 
in Parliament, the Duke’s conduct would bo exposed. . . . 

In May he was “ rejoiced at tho order from the 
Secretary of State to have tho broad gauge in tho 
Gwalior branch,” but as regards the Northern Punjab 
line they were drifting into completing it “ on a gauge 
that everybody condemns except Strachey and Wil- 


Hams. ... I do hope something may be done. 
Lord Northbrook would jump at an opening to have 
the broad gauge settled, but apparently is too much 
hurt or too proud to reopen a question in which he 
got such a rebuff in the Duke’s last order.” Finally, a 
telegram arrived announcing the broad gauge for the 
Indus line, and left the Government of India to 
determine the gauge of the Northern line, and Napier 
is satisfied that the broad gauge will be ordered for 
the line throughout. 

At this time, or rather two or three months previ¬ 
ously, his mouth being sealed by the famine regarding 
expenditure, Napier was on very good terms with 
Lord Northbrook, but when tho discussions on the 
next Budget took place, and a surplus of 3 millions 
was announced after the requirements of tho famine 
had been provided for, he felt it Iris duty to submit a 
Minute which practically amounted to an indictment 
against the Government. Napier pointed out that 
although the so-called surplus bad commenced a year 
before the famine, the military needs of the country 
had been neglected prior to that period. He proceeded 
to enumerate the military demands which had been 
shelved on the plea of lack of funds. These included 
defences needed for Aden, Bombay, Burma and tho 
River Hoogly leading to Calcutta, and the building 
of seven hospitals for British, two for Native troops, 
and a much needed water supply for several canton¬ 
ments. In 1862 the Government had allotted 10 
millions for the erection of now barracks, and of that 
sum only 3f millions had been actually spent on new 
constructions, while £200,000 worth of material had 
been left lying about the unfinished works. Ho 
emphasized the additional loss sustained by the State 


in the neglect of the accommodation necessary to 
preserve the health and moral conditions of the British 
soldier, who as Napier said: “ won India, recon¬ 

quered it, and through whom alone, under good 
government, we shall retain it.” 

The above Minute, after much delay, was duly 
criticized by the Military Member of Council, whom 
Napier accused of disingenuousness to use no harsher 
expression in regard to it, and this is a good example 
of the friction engendered by the system which per¬ 
mitted, and indeed required the checking of the 
Commander-in-Chief’s proposals by the Viceroy’s mili¬ 
tary adviser, necessarily a junior officer, referred to in 
a previous chapter. Napier, foreseeing delay, had 
taken the precaution to send a copy privately to the 
India Office with a hope that it might find its Avay to 
Lord Salisbury, then Secretary of State for India. It 
is not known what happened, but the military estimates 
for the following year showed an increase. 

In matters of discipline Napier was very strict. 
He did not shrink from punishing insubordination with 
the extreme penalty of martial law as was evident 
from his letter to the Duke of Cambridge in May, 1867, 
when Governor of Bombay. At that time he succeeded 
in practically stamping out the crime of insubordina¬ 
tion in the Bombay Army. As Commander-in-Chief 
he had to see that such crimes should not be tried by 
Civil Courts, where Civilian Judges were unable to 
“ appreciate crimes against discipline.” In a letter to 
Baker of the 28th March, 1873, he says : “I hope no 
hasty order will be issued bringing all capital offences 
by soldiers under the Mofussil High Courts. After 
several ineffective sentences by Civil Courts, to which 
I resorted at the urgent advice of Romaino, I got one> 


in which insubordination was coupled with attempt to 
murder. The unfortunate man was sentenced by the 
Court Martial to be hanged and was executed. Since 
then not a single case has occurred.” On the other 
hand, he defended the soldier from too severe treatment 
at the hands of a Civil Court. Many years later, 
after he had relinquished the command of Gibraltar, 
the British Government referred to him for advice as 
to the desirability of removing tho clause in the Army 
Act which excepts Gibraltar from those places where 
there is a Civil High Court within 100 miles, and where 
British soldiers must be tried by a Civil Court for 
capital offences. Napier’s successor had recommended 
the abolition of the clause, but Napier defended it, 
because the military orders to Sentries at Gibraltar 
were those of a fortress in face of the enemy, and they 
had orders to shoot any person not obeying their 
challenge. As many well-to-do inhabitants of Gib¬ 
raltar lived by smuggling, it would have been a 
temptation to a Civil jury to condemn a soldier as 
guilty of murder, who should happen to kill a smuggler 
in the course of his duty. 

The clause was retained. 

Napier’s five-year Command was approaching com¬ 
pletion at tho end of 1874, and Napier himself wished 
to relinquish his command. But, as Baker hinted, 
the India Office wished him to remain, and when the 
Duke of Cambridge added his powerful appeal to 
Napier to remain another year or two, supported as 
it was by Lord Salisbury, the Secretary of State for 
India, and Lord Northbrook as Viceroy, Napier could 
not do otherwise than consent to remain for another 
year, although he had begun to feel the burden of 
lorty-six years in India. 


The Duke of Cambridge, in thanking Napier for 
acceding to his request “in so handsome a manner,” 
drew his attention to an article in The Times, from its 
correspondent in Calcutta, abusing the Native army. 
The Duke did not believo the statements, but asked 
Napier to furnish him with material to refute the 
assertions. This letter is dated 13th January, 1875, 
and the Duke added that he was anxious regarding the 
paucity of European officers, and that there was no 
reserve of these, and he would like to see a considerable 
augmentation in the numbers of the subalterns of 
European regiments, so as to give this rcservo for the 
Native army in a time of emergency. 

Napier’s reply to this was to forward a Memo, by 
General Brownlow explaining the reasons for the 
present organization and why there is so much bitter¬ 
ness in the expressions of discontent. He adds: 
“ There are no doubt matters which require to be 
improved as regards the officers, but great improve¬ 
ment has taken placo, and the Native army is really 
better than ever it has been.” 

On 29th April Napier writes: 

I now refer to Your Royal Highness’ remarks regarding 
General Brownlow’s Paper. In sending it, I think I mentioned 
that ho went rather to extremes in one way, as those who 
clamour for the old organization do in the other. It is im¬ 
possible to suppose that Brownlow roally means that the 
Native officers are the backbone inclusive of the European 
Officers. What he means is that the European offioers, being 
on a pedestal above the regiment, tho Native officers are the 
backbone of the Native portion—that is, the good olass of 
Native officers. The regiments that mutinied had no backbone, 
the Native officers were nonentities, never having been en¬ 
trusted with command or responsibility. They had every¬ 
thing to lose 1 the good pay or pension they had earned ! But 


they were old and feeble, raised by seniority, and they were 
swept away by the young men. But hardly any Native 
officers, if even a single one, went against us who was of a 
good family and position. 

And many that were strong enough stood by us, saved and 
brought in European officers, and others. By making the 
Nativo officer’s position higher and educating him a little, 
he will be the more likely to be loyal, and to understand his 
interests as depending on our stability, than to go against us. 
In another mutiny, the Sepoys would have neither gunners 
nor artillery. The mixture of races, the better established 
discipline and obedience, and the vast diminution of our Native 
army, are the guarantees against mutiny. We shall never 
keep it away by having an ignorant soldiery without prospect 
of rising to an honourable position. I can quite understand 
an officer of the old Bengal army, or of the present Madras 
and Bombay armies, who was brought up in the old style of 
Native army, if he has not seen what has been done elsowhere, 
being unablo to understand that the Native officers of every 
part of India can be taught, and raised to the positions of 
Company Commanders, and that they will fill them efficiently. 
... I do not expect the process to be otherwise than slow, 
as long as the officers remain who will not believe in the 
possibility of teaching their Native officers. But I saw enough 
of the Bombay and Madras armies to be convinced that the 
only obstacles to success are the prejudices of the European 
officers. . . . 

I have proposed a Camp of 20,000 men for H.R.H. the 
Prince of Wales. 

This deliberate opinion of Napier regarding the 
capacity of the Native officer for command of a Com¬ 
pany is very important, based as it was on intimate 
knowledge of his behaviour in all circumstances, and 
on a sympathetic and generous comprehension of his 
character. Tho Native officer when given a chance 
by proper education and the practice of command 
will, he believed, rise to his responsibilities. Many 


British officers shared that opinion without being, 
persuaded of the wisdom of so improving the Native 
officer. It is therefore of particular interest to read 
Napier’s opinion that we shall never keep a mutiny 
away by having “ an ignorant soldiery without prospect 
of rising to an honourable position.” In later years 
the Indian Government recognized that fact to some 
extent by instituting a cadet collego in India, but the 
exigencies of modern war with its heavy demands on 
the young officers, made an increase to the number of 
British officers in a Native regiment essential, and 
proportionately reduced the opportunities of the 
Native officer for the command of a company, on 
which Lord Napier, ever the generous champion of 
the Indian soldier, laid such stress. 

Indeed, the question of tho officering of the Native 
army is still, and must long remain most important 
and difficult of solution. 

The futuro war in Afghanistan, which General 
Roberts brought to a successful conclusion a few years 
later, is foreshadowed in Napier’s correspondence. In 
a letter to tho Duke of Cambridge, dated November 27, 
1874, Napier reports the treacherous arrest of Yakoob 
Khan by his father, Sher Ali, the Amir of Afghanistan, 
at the instigation of the mother of the heir apparent 
Ali Doola Jan, and states that the border chiefs and 
two chiefs of the Ghilzai tribe have taken up tho 
quarrel. He adds: “ It is at this time that Lord 
Northbrook has again written to press reductions of 
the Native army. I have frankly stated that I consider 
it unnecessary to enter again into details, as the 
reasons against reduction are much stronger than they 
were in 1871 and 1872.” 

Other letters of this date give evidence of tne" 


thorough investigation which was made by Lord Napier 
and his Quartermaster-General of a future theatre of 
war in which the latter achieved such great distinction. 

An interesting letter from Lord Napier to Lord 
Northbrook about this time, November, 1875, contains 
recommendations for increasing the pay and pensions 
of the Native army, amounting to a sum of over 10 lacs 
of rupees. He places the pay of the Native soldier 
first in urgency, stating that it had not been increased 
during the “ present century ” for the first six years 
of a soldier’s service. He considers an increase to the 
means of the private soldier as “ an absolute necessity 
of the most urgent nature.” 

Napier continues : 

None of these items (including good conduct pay, compensa¬ 
tion for dearness of provisions, etc.) need wait on organization, 
and if you could obtain sanction from the Secretary of State, 
which might be communicated by telegram after receipt of 
your letter, the announcement by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales 
that Her Majesty by your advice had granted these boons to 
the Native Army, would have immense political effect in 
stimulating the loyalty and attachment of the Army. The 
Army and the people would feel that they have a tangible 
sovereign, a want that has scarcely been satisfied since the 
dayB of the prosperity of the Mogul Empire—we may say, 
since the days of Shah Jehan. The time is short, but the 
object to be attained is very great. ... I trust everything 
will go off happily at the Prince’s landing. I trust to you to 
save my character for loyalty as I could not be present. 

The Prince of Wales’ visit proved an immense 
success, as the Duke of Cambridge had prophesied in 
a letter to Napier announcing his departure in October. 
The Prince arrived in India on the 23rd December, 
and early in January reached the camp at Delhi, 
'**hich had been pitched for him alongside that of the 


Commander-in-Chief, on the ground ocoupied by the 
British Army during the siege. Thus was realized the 
Prince’s “ greatest wish and fondest dream,” namely 
to see and to know India, and, as his unfailing courtesy 
added in a letter from the Prince to Lord Napier five 
years previously, “ to meet Lord Napier there.” 

Unfortunately just before the great review took place, 
Lord Napier had an accident from his horse falling 
over a small ditch and broke his collar-bone. A 
telegram from General Probyn conveyed the Prince’s 
regrets, and that Lord Napier must not think of 
riding. Nevertheless, Napier was able to be present 
and remained mounted throughout the parade, which 
lasted for several hours, before he consented to lay up. 
It must not be presumed from his frequent falls that 
Napier was a bad horseman. Quite the contrary was 
the case. But throughout his career he was ever a 
bold and reckless rider, and in his younger days, his 
friends frequently prophesied that he would break his 
neck riding, as there was nothing too foolhardy for him 
to attempt in feats of horsemanship. He was a good 
judge of a horse and was invariably splendidly mounted. 

The Prince left on the 7th March, 1876, and Lord 
Roberts writes in his Memoirs : 

In less than a fortnight our dear old Chief followed, and 
I saw him off on 10th April. I was very low at parting with 
him, for though in the earlier days of our acquaintance, I used 
to think he was not very favourably disposed towards me, 
when I became more intimately acquainted with him nothing 
could exceed his kindness. He was universally regretted by 
Europeans and Natives alike. The soldiers recognised that 
he had carefully forwarded their interests and worked for their 
welfare, and the Native Princes and people felt that he was 
in sympathy with them, and to this day they speak of “ Lat 
Napier Sahib ” with the deepest respeot and affection. 


Lord Napier was succeeded in the command by Sir 
F. Haines. The Civil and Military Gazette, one of the 
leading papers in India, contained an article dated 
8th April, 1876, warmly supporting a suggestion that 
the armies of India should subscribe a day’s pay 
towards a fund which had been started in Galcutta 
to commemorate Napier’s career. In the course of a 
laudatory article describing his services, the Gazette 
says that he took over a discontented army at the 
commencement of his period as Commander-in-Chief: 

That General found the crime of insubordination with 
violence towards superior officers alarmingly prevalent when 
he assumed command. Firmness and justico tempered with 
mercy have succeeded in almost totally stamping out this 
crime from the ranks of the army in India. Lord Napier 
makes over to-day a charge to Sir Frederick Haines, of whioh 
both Generals have overy reason to be proud, and for the 
splendid efficiency of which, England has to thank Lord 
Napier and the regimental officers who have carried out his 
anxious endeavours to keep the regimental system by whioh 
the British Army made its fame and brought glory to its 
colours. . . . There are financial philosophers who have 
spoken of him as a Commander-in-Chief who “ thinks in 
lakhs,” meaning that he was reckless of the cost of the measures 
he proposed, or the reforms he desired carried out. This is 
a calumny worthy of the narrow-mindedness which gave rise 
to it. Lord Napier admired economy in army administration 
as thoroughly as the most radical army reformer, but he 
demurred when called upon to sacrifice efficiency to the cry 
of economy. And for this the soldier has reason to be grateful 
to him. With a vast and ever-increasing civil expenditure, 
with no proper system of audit and check, the wail of our 
Indian financiers has always been “ the cost of the Army. 
Cut down military expenditure, and behold a surplus! ” 
Lord Napier would not lend himself to this cry, and hence the 
tears of hife opponents in the Council. 




Early in 1876 Lord Napier had been offered, and 
had accepted the responsible post of Governor and 
Commander-in-Chief of the City and Garrison of 
Gibraltar. On his departure from India ho returned 
home and resided for some months in Cavendish 
Square, and saw a good deal of the official world and 
of London Society. He had brought with him from 
India three or four handsome Arab and Australian 
horses, and was a frequent rider in the Park. Besides 
various official functions, he made a point of attending 
the House of Lords, and of speaking on military 
subjects and other matters on which he had special 

He was much interested in the Institution founded 
by Captain Walters of the Corps of Commissionaires, 
attended the parade, and in a letter to The Times 
signified its importance to the Army, and begged for 
the financial support of the British public. 

Beforo taking up his appointment at Gibraltar, 
Napier obtained permission to accept the invitation of 
the German Emperor to attend the manoeuvres in 
that country, in Prussia, as the guest of the Emperor, 
and in Saxony as that of the King of Saxony, being 
treated by both Sovereigns with marked distinction. 
It was not until the 10th October that ho actually 




arrived and assumed the command of the famous 
Rock Fortress. A letter from the Governor of Alge- 
ciras, dated 13th October, thanking Lord Napier for 
his courteous announcement of his appointment as 
Governor, and for his sincere desire to promote friendly 
intercourse with the neighbouring Spanish Governor, 
shows that Lord Napier was prompt in ingratiating 
himself with the Spanish General who cordially recipro¬ 
cated Lord Napier’s sentiments. Thus General de 
Torres y Ferrado became a personal friend, as did 
also his successor, and these courtesies served to 
smooth over more than one awkward frontior 
incident. Indeed, one such occurred almost immedi¬ 
ately, as a letter from the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, Lord Carnarvon, shows. In it is mentioned 
an affray of British officers with Spanish villagers 
which was happily brought to an end without putting 
a stop to the officers’ hunting. The meets of the Calpe 
foxhounds were, and doubtless still are, a great feature 
in the social and sporting life of the British garrison, 
who, by the civility of the neighbouring officials, were 
enabled to ride for many miles in Spanish territory in 
every direction. 

Another letter from Lord Carnarvon in June, 1877, 
asks for Lord Napier’s opinion on the Defences of 
Gibraltar. A reply to this must have been promptly 
forthcoming, as General (Sir Lintorn) Simmons, In¬ 
spector-General of Fortifications, writes to Napier on 
the 3rd July as follows : “ Your confidential report to 
H.R.H. rather startled me, as I was surprised to find 
some of your magazines, and especially the large store- 
magazine, are so imperfectly defended against Artillery 
fire ” ! In regard to the North Front, General Simmons 
thought the apprehension of danger, in a report of 


some two years back, before Lord Napier’s arrival, was 
exaggerated, but said he would do all he could to got 
Lord Napier’s views responded to. Four or five 
months later, General Simmons came himself to 
Gibraltar to inspect, and in his report entered in detail 
into such matters as the protection of magazines, 
water supply and armament. He also recommended 
the installation of a few guns of the heaviest calibre. 
The result of this was that in April, 1878, the Secretary 
of State for War requested Lord Napier, who was in 
England at the time, to confer with the Defence 
Committee as to a site for a battery of two 100-ton 

Eventually two batteries were erected for the 100-ton 
guns, one called the Victoria and the other the Napier 
of Magdala batter}'. During Lord Napier’s tour of 
service at Gibraltar, several other batteries were 
erected of heavy guns varying from 38 tonB to 12 tons, 
casemate barracks were built, magazines were enlarged 
and shell stores constructed and better protected, as 
was also the water supply improved and better pro¬ 
tected. Fresh regulations were recommended by Lord 
Napier and eventually carried out by which the 
Sanitary Commission, a civilian body which had com¬ 
plete control over the water supply of the fortress, 
waB brought under Government control in spite of 
some opposition on the part of the townspeople. 

They were troublous times between 1878 and 1882, 
what with Afghanistan, South Africa, and the Russo- 
Turkish War, and it behoved the Governor and the 
Home authorities to be especially vigilant with regard 
to the Mediterranean fortresses. At the same time 
Lord Napier did not neglect his opportunites as a Civil 
Governor. Early in 1877 a much-needed new wing 



was added to The Convent, the Governor’s town resi¬ 
dence, and Lord Carnarvon wrote in November that 
he was “ very pleased to hear of the satisfactory result 
of the improvements.” In January, 1878, in taking 
farewell of Lord Napier on relinquishing office, Lord 
Carnarvon gracefully referred to the satisfaction he 
felt in having been able to place the “ fortunes of our 
greatest foreign fortress in such guardianship as yours,” 
and added that he had managed to secure a copy of 
the famous portrait of Lord Heathfield by Sir J. 
Reynolds, now in the National Gallery, for the Convent 
at Gibraltar. Lord Napier was also able to have 
restored the magnificent drawings in charcoal on the 
white-washed walls of the Patio in the Convent, of scenes 
during the siege of Gibraltar so gallantly defended by 
Sir George Eliott, afterwards Lord Heathfield, in 1782. 

Among the important public works undertaken by 
Lord Napier during his tour of service as Governor 
may be cited the New Market, the Civil Hospital, the 
Signal Station at Windmill Hill (a great boon to the 
Shipping, the upper signal station being frequently 
enveloped in fog), the Lunatic Asylum and the Savings 
Bank. Some of these works were not completed until 
after Lord Napier’s retirement from active service, 
but he continued to take the greatest interest in their 
progress, received periodical reports of their construc¬ 
tion, and their final completion was a source of great 
pride and satisfaction to him. 

Meanwhile, however, events of great importance 
were taking place in Europe. Russia had declared 
war on Turkey in April, 1877. The Russians crossed 
the Danube in June of that year, but thanks to tho 
stubborn resistance of the Turks at Plevna, it was not 
until the opening of 1878 that tho Turks were pros- 


trated, and the road to Constantinople was open to 
Russia. This situation created great alarm in England, 
and the war feeling rose high. The music-hall song— 

“ We don’t want to fight, but by Jingo, if wo do, 

We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, wo’ve got the 
money too ”— 

aptly described the prevailing sentiments of the Tory 
Party, and gave rise to the name of “ Jingo,” uttered 
as a reproach by the pacifists, but hailed with pride 
by chivalrous Tories. 

Lord Beaconsfield was at that time in power, and 
considered it necessary to take practical steps to arrest 
Russia’s progress towards Constantinople. A supple¬ 
mentary vote of 6 millions sterling for naval and 
military expenditure was taken on the 9th February, 
and the British Fleet made a demonstration up the 
Straits of the Dardanelles, only to return to Bezika 
Bay on the news of peace between Turkey and Russia. 
However, it soon became evident that Russia intended 
going on towards Constantinople. Lord Napier was 
hastily summoned from Gibraltar, which he left on 
the 28th February, 1878, and was appointed to com¬ 
mand any Expeditionary Force that might be sent 
against Russia, with Major-General Sir Garnet Wolseley 
as his Chief-of-Staff. Lord Napier remained in London 
for some months in close collaboration with the War 
Office. Amongst his papers are some interesting 
Memoranda by Sir Garnet Wolseley, including replies 
to questions put to him by Lord Napier as to the 
time required for mobilizing an Army Corps and 
placing it on the island of Mitelene, etc. Sir Garnet 
Wolseley was in favour of gaining possession of the 
Gallipoli Peninsula, if possible by sending a few British 



officers and endeavouring to raiso a Turkish force in 
British pay, or by taking the Bulair Lines if only 
occupied by about 23,000 Turkish troops, or if the 
Russians were in too close contact, he advised a 
landing on the Peninsula, and the seizure of the 
batteries at Kilid Bahr. This was written on the 
17th March. 

Lord Napier also consulted Colonel Home, of the 
Royal Engineers, then in charge of the Intelligence 
Branch of the Q.M.G. Department. The political 
situation was still obscure, and various combinations 
were suggested, according to whether Austria would 
aid us and whether Turkey would fight on our side, 
or be forced by Russia to fight against us. Acting on 
the latter supposition, Colonel Home emphatically 
declared the Asiatio side as the most favourable to 
attack, on various grounds, such as a good landing 
and defensive position near Bezika Bay, easily to bo 
captured and held, better roads, stronger forts com¬ 
manding the straits to be reduced, etc. In view of 
our subsequent operations in the Great War, it is 
interesting to observe that Lord Napier’s opinion 
coincided with that of Colonel Home, as is evident by 
a further Memorandum by Sir Garnet Wolseley, dated 
30th March, containing some very shrewd remarks on 
the military strength of Russia, how it was over¬ 
estimated by non-military men at the same time that 
they underestimated the value of our own force. 
Sir Garnet concludes : “ Should the position assume a 
more serious aspect, steps should be taken for seizing 
the Bulair Lines ... or should that have in the 
meantime become impossible, an Army Corps should 
be landed at or near Bezika Bay, and the position 
from Kum Kaleh extending south towards the Bay, 


or east towards Eren-kui occupied, and the batteries 
commanding the Dardanelles from the Asiatic shore 
seized, as recommended in Lord Napier’s Minute.” 
However, as events turned out, the British Fleet 
which had been able to penetrate to the Sea of Marmora 
unopposed, confronted the victorious Russians before 
Constantinople, and a temporary arrangement was 
made by which the Russians remained outside Con¬ 
stantinople, and the British did not land. Matters 
still remained critical. It was decided secretly to call 
out the reserves, and to bring Indian troops to Malta. 
Prince Bismarck then intervened with proposals for 
a conference at Berlin. The Congress took place and 
peace was made by the famous Treaty of Berlin. 

A farewell letter from Sir Garnet Wolseley, dated 
18th July, 1878, thanking Lord Napier for his kind¬ 
ness, deploring the peace, and expressing the hope of 
again being associated with Lord Napier, marks the 
close of this episode. 

Lord Napier returned to Gibraltar early in October, 
and his further correspondence shows that, apart from 
local affairs, he was much preoccupied with occurrences 
in South Africa and Afghanistan, and as these events 
influenced his movements, and are referred to very 
frequently in his lettors, it is necessary to give a 
brief outline of what occurred. His friend, Sir Bartle 
Frere, had been appointed Chief Commissioner in 
South Africa, and war had broken out between Great 
Britain and the Zulu King Cetawayo. Lord Chelms¬ 
ford had been appointed to command the British 
troops on Lord Napier’s recommendation. The defeat 
of the British forces on January 22, 1879, created 
much alarm. Lord Napier was again obliged to return 
to England early in February and was pressed to 



assume the command in South Africa. This he 
resisted, urging that it was not wise to withdraw a 
Commander the moment he suffered a temporary 
reverse. He did not wish to supersede his friend. On 
one occasion, in the course of conversation with a 
Royal Princess, who accused him of being, as was 
afterwards said of Lord Wolseley, our only General, 
and anxious to obtain command, Lord Napier replied : 
“ Madam, you are more unjust than the British public.” 
On the 20th March, 1879, Lord Napier sent a Memoran¬ 
dum to the Duke of Cambridge explaining how he had 
recommended Lord Chelmsford for the command as 
boing the General most fitted for the post, and enumer¬ 
ating his past services. He added that ho placed the 
Memorandum in His Royal Highness’ hands to be 
used ti8 H.R.H. might think proper, to be read in the 
House, if necessary. 

The result of Lord Napier’s chivalrous behaviour 
was that Lord Chelmsford was not superseded by him, 
and was soon able to retrieve his disaster by a victory 
that put an end to the war. 

As regards Afghanistan, tho position was that at 
the end of June, 1878, the Amir Sher Ali had received 
a Russian Mission at Kabul. Although the favourable 
conclusion of the Berlin Congress occurred just in time 
to cause the Russians to desist from making an offensive 
and defensive alliance with Afghanistan, the alarm of 
the Indian Government was such that the Viceroy, 
Lord Lytton, with the approval of the British Govern¬ 
ment, at once insisted on the Amir also receiving a 
British Mission at Kabul. Acting under Russian 
advice, Sher Ali sent an evasive reply, and when the 
Mission, under Sir N. Chamberlain, reached the Afghan 
frontier, near the Khyber Pass, it was refused admission. 


This occurred on the 21st September, 1878. The 
British force was formed in three columns, an ulti¬ 
matum demanding an apology and the acceptance of 
a permanent Mission in Afghanistan was*issued on the 
30th October and expired on the 20th November. 
The advance commenced the following day. The 
Afghan army was defeated by General Roberts at 
Peiwar Kotal. Another column, under Sir S. Browne, 
advanced to Jelalabad. Sher Ali fled to Turkestan 
with the Russian Mission, and his son, Yakub Khan, 
released from prison, assumed the Government. Then 
Sher Ali died on the 21st February, 1879, and Yakub 
Khan proposed peace to the Viceroy, who agreed to 
negotiate under certain conditions. These included 
the Khyber, Khurara, Pishin and Sibi districts to 
remain within British dominion, and the establishment 
of a permanent Mission at Kabul. Yakub’s reply was 

Here, to digress for a moment, it is interesting to 
noto that Lord Napier wrote to the Duke of Cambridge 
on the 18th March, 1879, thanking him for the perusal 
of Lord Lytton’s letter, and added : “ I do not like it 
as regards Afghanistan, and believe the frontier as 
indicated will not be a workable one. It appears to 
be intended to abandon all those who deserted Sher Ali 
and Yakub Khan to come to us, when we make friends 
•with Yakub Khan and retire from our advanced 

To resume. At that time General Roberts was in 
occupation of the Shutur Gurdan Pass at the head of 
the Kurram Valley, the Peiwar Kotal and Ali Masjid 
had been taken ; the enemy had been beaten near 
Jelalabad, and a successful skirmish had taken place 
near Kandahar. But the Afghans had not suffered a 



severe defeat. Yakub Khan, instead of receiving an 
envoy at Kabul, came himself to the British camp at 
Gandamak, between Jelalabad and Kabul, in May, 
1879, and tho treaty of Gandamak closed tho first 
phase of the war. General Roberts remained with his 
force in the Kurram, and with some misgiving saw 
Major Cavagnari cross tho frontier on his way to 
Kabul as British Representative, in accordance with 
the late treaty. By September, Cavagnari and his 
party had been treacherously murdered by the Afghans, 
and by Christmas Eve of 1879 the avenging army of 
Roberts entered Kabul. 

Severe measures had to be taken by General Roberts 
in restoring order and to punish those guilty of 
Cavagnari’s murder. General Roberts was accordingly 
blamed by a certain section of the British public which 
is always more concerned with the welfare of Britain’s 
enemies than that of herself and her friends. There is 
evidence in Lord Napier’s correspondence of his having 
taken measures to defend General Roberts’ reputation 
from such unworthy attacks. 

The question of how to dispose of Afghanistan now 
had to be decided. For the past year. Lord Napier 
had been urging the retention of Kandahar and Jelala¬ 
bad. This policy was, however, opposed by Lord 
Lawrence and other ex-Viceroys. Then followed Lord 
Lytton’s policy of conciliation and the consolidation 
of Afghanistan under Yakub Khan. The failure of 
this by the murder of the gallant Cavagnari, while 
lamented by I<ord Napier on personal grounds, was 
greeted by him as offering the British Government 
another opportunity of amending their weak decision 
of withdrawal. He accordingly again wrote to Lord 
Lytton on the 3rd October, and while condoling with 


him on the loss of the officers, and the ruin of the 
prospect which seemed to him so fair of establishing 
a free and independent Afghanistan, laid stress on the 
importance of keeping the road from the Shutur 
Gurdan to Kabul open during the winter, and assured 
him that with the experience of the former occupation 
of Kabul for the winter, “ we rest quite confident in 
the wisdom and foresight of the General in Charge.” 
He added: “In the correspondence of the late Sir 
A. Roberts, now in possession of his son General 
Roberts, there is a full detail of the errors of proceeding 
which led to our former disasters. No man therefore 
could be better warned against a repetition of them.” 
He finally stated that he had received from General 
Stewart a statement of his reasons for recommending 
the abandonment of Kandahar, but that he had not 
found them convincing. In a further Memorandum on 
the 12th October Lord Napier enumerated the various 
policies then open to the Government, including the 
possibility of establishing Abdur Rahman as ruler of 
the whole of Afghanistan, but concluded by preferring 
the annexation of the district of Kandahar to British 
India, to be carried out in the most complete manner, 
leaving nothing to chance, and bringing up the railway 
as rapidly as possible. In a letter to General Dillon, 
he remarked with reference to General Stewart’s prefer¬ 
ence for withdrawal, that the latter seemed to forget 
that “ our object is to have the position of Kandahar 
as an Advanced Guard enabling us to prevent the 
occupation of Herat by an enemy.” 

However, in March, 1880, Lord Beaconsfield’s 
Government was dissolved, and his place was taken 
by Mr. Gladstone. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
the policy of withdrawal won the day, and Abdur 



Rahman Khan was invited to rule over, at any rate, 
Northern Afghanistan. General Roberts was making 
preparations to evacuate the country, when news was 
suddenly brought of the defeat of the British Kandahar 
force at Maiwand by Ayub Khan, a brother of Yakub 
Khan, advancing from Herat early in July, 1880. 
Then followed Roberts’ famous march from Kabul to 
Kandahar in relief of that town, which put an end 
to the war, and by September, 1880, the British troops 
had evacuated Afghanistan. 

Abdur Rahman Khan proved an exceptionally able 
monarch, and the kingdom of Afghanistan is apparently 
now established on a firm basis with complete inde¬ 
pendence, and control of her foreign relations with 
other Powers. But military strategists will probably 
agree that the North-West frontier of India would now 
be in a more satisfactory condition as regards its 
capability of resisting foreign aggression, had Lord 
Napier’s suggestions been adopted ; and had he been 
able, in the spirit of the true British Empire builder, 
he would have added another and fairer province to 
the great Indian Empire to which he had already so 
worthily contributed. 

But before the fate of Afghanistan had been decided. 
Lord Napier’s attention was taken up by another war 
in South Africa, and also by his appointment as 
Ambassador Extraordinary on the occasion of the 
second marriage of the King of Spain. As Lord 
Napier pointed out to the British Government, the 
nomination of the Governor of Gibraltar to such a 
duty almost amounted to an indiscretion, seeing that 
Spain had never abandoned the hope of regaining 
possession of the much coveted fortress, and had even 
been intriguing towards that end. Indeed, the very 


title of the Governor of the neighbouring port of 
Algeciras, who was also styled “ Governor of the fortress 
of Gibraltar, temporarily in possession of the English,” 
showed what the feelings of patriotic Spaniards must 
have been. Nevertheless, Lord Napier’s reputation 
and tactful treatment of his Spanish colleague, won 
for him a cordial reception at the Spanish capital, 
while his personal charm and courteous behaviour 
ensured the success of his Mission. 

No sooner, however, had Lord Napier returned to 
Gibraltar early in December, 1879, than he was urgently 
summoned by the Duke of Cambridge to attend the 
proceedings of an Army Committee then sitting in 
London. Lord Napier obeyed the summons with 
some reluctance, chiefly on account of his frequent 
absences from his post as Governor of Gibraltar, 
which caused him qualms of conscience in accepting 
the salary of the appointment, even though acting 
under orders, but partly owing to his health which 
was very liable to suffer from the sudden change to 
the rigours of an English winter. A letter from the 
Duke, dated 4th February, 1880, bears eloquent 
testimony to H.R.H.’s appreciation of Lord Napier’s 
assistance. The latter was not long detained in 
England, and was ablo to return to Gibraltar ip 

Lord Napier’s correspondence at this time shows 
his deep preoccupation at the disastrous defeats 
which our arms had undergone in South Africa at 
the hands of the Boers, which rendered him more than 
ever suspicious of the recent so-called short-service 
reforms, and apt to contrast the young British troops 
with the hardened veterans to whom he had been 
accustomed. He expressed his belief that the British 



soldiers of the present day were no longer able to 
counteract and make good the effect of bad leading 
by their officers, which was also very apparent, as 
it had been in the past. 

His grief at the death in April, 1881, of Lord Beacons- 
field, for whom he cherished the greatest admiration, 
was most sincere. Ever since the days of Abyssinia, 
Lord Bcacon8ficld had treated him with great regard 
and friendliness, and Lord Napier felt that Great 
Britain could rely on this the greatest of her Ministers 
to keep the old flag flying, and maintain British honour 
and British interests both at homo and abroad. His 
disenchantment with Mr. Gladstono and disgust at 
the conclusion of peace with the Boers was therefore 
all the gre ater. 

Lord Napier spent the spring and summer months 
at Gibraltar, busy with his multifarious duties which 
included the furthering of the public buildings in which 
he was interested, and in laying out public gardens 
on the North Front over an area of ground which had 
previously been used for market gardens, affording 
a perquisite to the Governor of some £300 a year, 
and handed them over, before his departure, to the 
care of the Civil authorities. He employed the labour 
of his own corps, the Royal Engineers, to carry out 
these improvements, and an amusing story is told of 
a young subaltern of Engineers superintending the 
fatigue party in laying out beds and paths. On 
being addressed by the Governor during this occupation, 
he remarked that his own mother would be able to do 
the job far better than he could. This remark was 
repeated by tho Governor jokingly to the Officer 
Commanding R.E., who passed it on to the young 
officer’s immediate superior, with the result that the 


subaltern was ordered off to bis quarters instead of 
meeting the Governor at dinner. Lord Napier heard 
of this just in time to insist on the young officer’s 
presence, and took occasion to remind him on the 
next occasion that “ Adam first planted a garden.” 
In little ways such as these; Lord Napier endeared 
himself to all ranks. 

By the month of July, Lord Napier was again in 
England, Lady Napier having taken a house at Ascot, 
where she gave birth to her youngest son. The 
Prince and Princess of Wales graciously signified their 
intention of acting as sponsors for the child, who 
was christened by the names Albert, Edward, 
Alexander, in the Chapel Royal, St. James’ Palace, 
only the Prince and Princess and the immediate 
relatives being present. 

On his return with Lady Napier and some of the 
children to Gibraltar the P. & O. Steamer Australia 
broke down on entering the Bay of Biscay, and became 
perfectly helpless, the propeller shaft having been 
broken. All attempts to tow her failed, and the 
vessel drifted until close off the coast of Guernsey. 
Fortunately the weather moderated, which saved 
her from drifting on to the rocks and becoming a 
total wreck. Further attempts during two days 
having failed to move her, H.M.S. Valorous was 
sent to the rescue by Admiral Farquhar, commanding 
at Plymouth, and the passengers were taken off. 
Lord Napier, who had been very active in calming 
the passengers, and assisting in the maintenance of 
discipline, was the last to leave the ship, and was 
nearly drowned in doing so. He was then seventy-one 
years of age. 

For some days Lord Napier and his family were 



most hospitably ontertained by the Admiral at Devon- 
port before resuming their voyage, which was completed 
in fine weather without further incident. 

During one of the visits to Gibraltar of the Mediter¬ 
ranean Fleet, when tho Duko of Edinburgh was in 
command, it was arranged that a combined military and 
naval review should bo held on the North Front, and 
Lord Napier, as was usual, offered to mount His Royal 
Highness for the occasion. The Duke, however, not 
at all to Napier’s liking, insisted on holding the parade 
on foot, promising to give his reasons for so doing 
subsequently. The review duly took place, and 
shortly afterwards Lord Napier received the Duke’s 
explanation. This consisted of two clever drawings, 
by Captain Willoughby Verner of the Rifle Brigade, 
depicting a former and similar review, in which the 
preceding Admiral, mounted on one of Lord Napier’s 
spirited Arabs, galloped up to the Head-quarters 
Staff, but instead of pulling up on his haunches to 
salute the Governor, continued on into Spain, dropping, 
first his cocked hat and then his sword. Tho second 
sketch showed him returning, seated beside his wife 
in a hired carriage with the horse tied on behind. 

Napier had the honour of entertaining tho Duko 
and Duchess of Connaught in the new wing of the 
Convent, and hoped at one time also to receive the 
Duke of Cambridge, who, however, much as ho would 
have liked to visit the Rock, could not sparo the 
time to do so. 

At another time, on the occasion of tho voyage of 
the young Princes Edward and George, as midship¬ 
men on H.M.S. Bacchante , Lord Napier received 
an urgent telegram from the Prince of Wales, 
who had heard a rumour that the midshipmen had 


amused themselves by tattooing the noses of the 
young Princes. The possibility of the future Heir 
Apparent to the Throne wearing the indelible marks 
of a midshipman’s freak on so prominent a feature 
had filled the parents with alarm, and Lord Napier 
was bidden to ascertain the truth. Without betraying 
his object, he was able to invito the young Princes 
to dinner, and after a careful, but surreptitious 
inspection, to telegraph a reassuring reply. 

Towards tho close of the year 1881, Lord Napier’s 
constant friend and Chief, the Duke of Cambridge, 
was much worried by the intrigues of a clique of 
junior officers with Mr. Childers, the Minister of War, 
more or less hostile, in the background; and the 
Duke contemplated resignation. 

That His Royal Highness did not in fact resign 
until some years later, was probably due to the support 
and encouragement he received at the hands of Lord 
Napier and other officers of the old school. In a 
letter to General Dillon in November of that year, 
Lord Napier says he “ cannot believe that the country 
will allow a clique to worry out a Commander-in-Chief 
who possesses the confidence of the army in his justico 
and knowledge of the Service,” and notes that “ Mr. 
Childers has disclaimed the anonymous attacks as 
coming directly or indirectly from him.” 

Save for a brief visit to Granada in June, Napier 
appears to have spent the wholo of 1882 at Gibraltar, 
and amongst tho measures which he took at that 
time for improving tho well-being of the soldier may 
be cited the provision of Reading and Recreation 

As an instance of the variod duties that fell to his 
lot as Governor of Gibraltar, may be quoted the 



installation of a new Roman Catholic Bishop who had 
to be installed in March, 1882, against the wishes 
of the people, literally at the point of tho bayonet. 
The Duke of Cambridge wrote on this occasion to 
Lord Napier congratulating him on his arrangements, 
which seemed to have been most judicious and prudont, 
and to have met with complete success. H.R.H. 
only wished that the Colonial Office had taken his 
wise advice, and that he had not been called upon 
by tho Government at home to take any part whatever 
in the proceedings. 

The Duke of Cambridge also sympathized with 
Lord Napier in a difference of opinion with the Spanish 
authorities regarding the action of the harbour police 
at Gibraltar. This was sufficiently important to 
occasion a visit to Gibraltar by Mr. Morier, the British 
Minister at Madrid, who had done his best without 
success to persuade the Governor to make to tho 
Spaniards certain concessions of which Lord Napier 
did not approve. 

I<ord Napier relinquished the Command of Gibraltar 
at the beginning of 1883, and left, amidst universal 
regrets, in H.M.S. Qrappler for Oran, en route to 

He had succeeded in doing much for Gibraltar in 
its defences and in the City buildings, as well as in 
the care both of soldiers and civilians. 

But, as in former days, he did not shrink from 
spending money or shirk responsibility. Once satisfied 
that an object was urgently needed in tho public 
service, he managed to obtain the Government’s 
sanction for the requisite expenditure. Lord Derby’s 
letter to his successor, dated 8th January, 1883, 
points to the reluctance with which the last-named 


Colonial Secretary had acceded to his wishes, and 
his determination that such extravagances should 
not be continued by his successor in the Command. 

It was, however, a fortunate episodo in the history 
of the famous fortress, when it secured the services 
of a Governor who was at once ablo and willing to 
obtain the necessary grants and expend them judi¬ 
ciously in adding to the security, the healthiness and 
the beauty of the old Rock of Gibraltar. 

In Egypt Lord Napier took a special interest in 
going over the battle-fields, and at Tel-el-Kebir erected 
a monument in honour of the first bravo soldier to 
surmount the enemy’s breastwork. This was a Private 
of the Cameron Highlanders, a regiment which had 
gone from Gibraltar, and was much esteemed by 
Lord Napier, and had been very popular in the garrison. 



Field-Marshal—Constable of the Tower—Death and Funeral. 

On his return to England, Lord Napier, who had 
been promoted to the rank of Field-Marshal, on 
relinquishing the Command of Gibraltar, wrote to 
his great friend General Dillon, 1 his faithful staff-officer 
since China days, and lamented that there was not 
likely to be much “ Field ” about it. Although 
nominally on the active list, as every Field-Marshal 
is, he was never afterwards actively employed, which 
is not surprising considering that he was now 
seventy-three years of age. But he continued to 
bo consulted by various Ministers of State, Viceroys 
and Commanders-in-Chief for many years. 

Ho took up his residence near Camberley, where 
one of his sons was a student of the Staff College, and 
another a Sandhurst cadet, and besides taking part 
in numerous debates in the House of Lords, he occa¬ 
sionally attended Field days at Aldershot, riding 
round in plain clothes with the Duke of Cambridge, 
or assisted at ono of the Duke’s inspections of the 
Royal Military College. 

In April, 1884, he was the first to call attention to 
the dangerous position of General Gordon by a speech 

1 Afterwards Sir Martin Dillon. 


in the House of Lords. He had heard that the Govern¬ 
ment did not contemplate sending an expedition to 
his relief, but he suggested that in case they might 
be compelled to change their minds, the Government 
would do well to consult the scientific departments 
as to what preliminary steps should be taken, either 
from the direction of Suakin or from Cairo. 

In the one case the distance to Khartoum was 
about 445 miles, and in the other case 1,200 miles. 
Taking the former route, he pointed out that 200 
miles of the 445 ran alongside the Nile, and of the 
remainder, 100 miles was desert, which could be 
traversed in two stages of 50 miles. Then camo 145 
miles of level country between the desert and the 
sea, which could be crossed by troops at any time of 
year, provided they were equipped properly, as there 
was water and moro could be obtained by sinking 
wells. “ At that time the Mahdi’s followers were 
not in possession of Berber,” as Lord Napier remarked 
when he again drew attention to tho matter in another 
speech in the House of Lords on February 27, 1885, 
“ and nothing would have been easier than for a force 
to have crossed over from Suakin and given a hand 
to Gordon.” Nothing, however, had been done all 
through the long months of 1884, until August, when 
Lord Wolseley had been entrusted with the command 
of an expedition, and had decided on tho Nile route. 

Lord Napier did not object to the Nile route, but 
presumed that tho Government would at once havo 
proceeded to lay down rails vigorously, so as to cross 
the cataracts, and to supply steamers and river trans¬ 
ports, especially as permanent communications from 
Cairo to the extremities were necessary in any case, 
and were necessary now. Lord Wolseley, he said. 



required support and better communications with 
Cairo. “ No one should criticize the action of Lord 
Wolseley in sending forward Sir Herbert Stewart. 
That was a most gallant and brilliant advance towards 
the relief of General Gordon.” 

In spite of his advanced age, Lord Napier would 
himself have gladly undertaken the relief of General 
Gordon, had it been entrusted to him, and there is 
little doubt that he would have chosen the route from 
Suakin, and would have insisted on timely preparations. 
But this did not prevent him from warmly supporting 
the officer in command, as he always did. 

Lord Napier also did all he could to prevent the 
abandonment of the Soudan. In the same month of 
March, 1885, when the question of building a railway 
from Suakin to Berber was discussed in the House of 
Lords, Lord Salisbury remarked that one would 
require Aladdin’s lamp to build such a line, but Lord 
Napier pointed out that a railway of a temporary 
character could be rapidly constructed, and might be 
used for a permanent structure later on. As regards 
the desirability of opening communications with the 
Mahdi, Lord Napier remarked that “ the Mahdi from 
first to last had shown no disposition to treat with 
us. From the first overture made to him by General 
Gordon, he had persistently said : Put on my uniform, 
and I will spare you. That evinced the spirit of a 
fanatic, and as such he should be treated. We should 
have to beat him or let him alone,” and he hoped 
that we would beat him. Unfortunately, Lord Napier’s 
advice was not followed, and the Mahdi was suffered 
to tyrannize over the Soudan for many long years. 

In 1886 Lord Napier spoke in the House of Lords 
on the behaviour of soldiers in Civil riots, and urged 


that the duties of soldiers in all circumstances should 
be very strictly defined. The Lord Chancellor, Lord 
Halsbury, replied that it could not be denied that, 
as soldiers do not cease to bo citizens, officers and 
soldiers acted to a certain extent at their peril. He 
agreed that it was desirable to mako that peril as 
slight as possible, but it could not be removed alto¬ 
gether. In spite of an intervention by the Duke of 
Cambridge, who wished the Government to put a 
test case in order to ensure tho Queen’s Regulations 
and the Law so clearly going together that there 
could be no mistake or misunderstanding, the Lord 
Chancellor declined to be more precise, and said that 
there was no doubt that an ordinary tumultuous 
assembly could not properly be dispersed until after 
the Riot Act had been read, because after that it 
became a felony to remain, and the troops might uso 
all the force that was legitimate for tho purpose of 
preventing a felony. But in the case of a mere 
ordinary tumultuous assembly, not meeting for 
felonious purposes, it was obvious that they would 
not be justified in resorting to the force that might 
be used in the case of felony. 

The last subject of importance dealt with by Lord 
Napier in the House of Lords was that of mediation 
between Italy and Abyssinia. On more than one 
occasion he had been utilized by the Government of 
the day to bring his influence to bear on King John 
of Abyssinia, whom he had been instrumental in placing 
on the throne, to induce him to acquiesce in certain 
measures desired by the British Government, and 
Napier had invariably insisted on fair play to King 
John as a condition of such assistance. On this 
occasion also, a perusal of Lord Napier’s speech evinces 


a kindly and chivalrous care for the interests of a 
country and its ruler with whom he had been sc 
intimately associated. 

In December, 1886, Lord Napier was appointed 
Constable of the Tower of London, the honour of 
which post ho greatly appreciated in view of the 
distinguished Commanders who had preceded him, 
although the duties were merely nominal. Some 
three years later, owing to an attack of influenza, 
contracted while attending the funeral of his old 
friend and brother-officer, Sir Henry Yule, Lord 
Napier, after a few days’ illness, died at his residence 
in Eaton Square on the 14th of January, 1890, sur¬ 
rounded by his family. The Duke of Cambridge 
paid a visit to his bedside, but he was already un¬ 
conscious. He received a State funeral, the most 
impressive since that of the great Duke of Wellington. 
The body was conveyed from his house in Eaton 
Square to the Tower of London, whence the procession 
was formed on foot through a vast crowd of sym¬ 
pathetic onlookers to St. Paul’s Cathedral where the 
burial took place in the presence of the Prince of 
Wales, the Duke of Cambridge representing the Queen, 
and a large and distinguished congregation. 1 Lord 
Wolseley led the Headquarters Staff, tho escort was 
formed of Royal Engineers and amongst tho Pall 
Bearers were many of his brother officers and old 
comrades in arms, the chief of whom was Field- 
Marshall Sir Patrick Grant. Many were the telegrams 
and letters of regret from high and low in all parts of 

1 Count Hatzfeldt represented the German Emperor, Herr von 
Rath, the Ex-Empress Frederick (a token of the warm friendship 
that had continued ever since Lord Napier had mado her acquaint¬ 


the world, and many were the sympathetic letters and 
anecdotes which appeared in the Press regarding his 

The leading article in The Times of the 15th January 
is a measure of the high place which he enjoyed in 
public esteem, and extracts are thereforo quoted from 
it as follows: 

Not in the British Isles alone, but throughout tho whole 
Empire, tho news of the death of Lord Napier of Magdala 
will be received with the deepest regret. The loss of an 
eminent public servant will be lamented no less than the 
disappearance of a familiar figure from contemporary history. 
An element of selfishness in the grief is the highest tribute 
which can bo paid to his memory. Though Military records 
supply exceptions to the rule, generally at the age of 80 a 
soldier must be presumed to have finished his active work. 
If another hostile cloud, as in 1878, had blown up in the direc¬ 
tion of England, it is not likely that in later years Lord Napier 
of Magdala would have consented to be designated for the 
command. But the opinion of the country continued to rest 
upon him as the foremost of surviving British officers, and 
statesmen retained their faith in him as the sagest of military 
counsellors. National confidence is not earned in a moment, 
and once won, it is steadfast. Lord Napier of Magdala had 
conquered it slowly and surely. 

Never was there a career which ascended along more regular 
and indisputable stages. At every point it was able to bear 
the minutest inspection. Nothing in it was due to favour. 
It owed nothing to accident, unless of the sort which offers 
conspicuous occasion for failure as well as for distinction. 
Long before his name was current at Home, he had done 
enough to demonstrate oapacity for the loftiest of military 
trusts. Tho Engineer to the Durbar of Lahore, and to thfc 
Administration of the Punjab, the Chief Engineer at tho sieges 
of Mooltan and on tho field of Goojerat, Outram’s Chief of the 
Staff, the victor of Jaura-Alipur, the second in command to 
Sir Hope Grant, at Pekin, and tho Commander-in-Chief in 


Bombay, had civilised kingdoms, captured famous forts, been 
again and again face to face with death, performed an infinity 
of splendid exploits, and remained one of a mass of officers 
indiscriminately able and meritorious. Thanked by Parlia¬ 
ment, decorated by his sovereign, praised by every superior 
he had served and advanced to exalted and lucrative posts, 
he was still comparatively unknown. Then came the oppor¬ 
tunity which always arrives at last. He led a British army 
over the mountains of Abyssinia, routed Theodore’s forces 
at Islamgie, and stormed a citadel which else might have been 
counted impregnable. Thenceforward his countrymen recog¬ 
nised him for that he had proved himself full 20 years before, 
a military genius fitted for any and every task which war 
can set a people. . . . 

Great Britain loses in Lord Napier of Magdala an illustrious 
soldier and one of the kindliest and most estimable of men. 
In the race for renown which he was far from despising, he 
was often outstripped. Tho more rapid progress of others 
left no touch of bitterness on him. He never scorned to be 
a lieutenant because he might reasonably have expected to 
lead. By an experience which is almost more extraordinary, 
when it was his turn to go manifestly and irreversibly to the 
front, his ascendancy provoked no jealousy or envy. He had 
been nobody’s enemy or maligner. His reward was the some¬ 
what unusual converse and to be without detractors. Goodness 
and graciousness such as his are not substitutes in a campaign 
for professional intelligence and strategy. But in combination 
they become military virtues in themselves. 

To the Committee of distinguished men who 
approached the Lord Mayor, Alderman Sir Henry 
Isaacs, with reference to the erection of a memorial 
to Lord Napier’s memory, the Lord Mayor replied 
that they were all proud of the distinguished men, 
who fought for their country, but they were specially 
so when a great commander attracted to himself by 
his nobility of character, his sweetness of disposition 
and his charming modesty of demeanour, the love, 



admiration and respect of the whole community. 
Such a man was Lord Napier of Magdala, and of such 
a man they deserved and they intended to possess a 
lasting memorial. As a result of this, public sub¬ 
scriptions were contributed, and a replica of the statue 
by Boehm which was erected in Calcutta when he 
left India, was set up to his memory in Waterloo 
Place, London. 

In 1923 this statue was removed to its present 
beautiful site in Queen’s Gate in order to make room 
for a statue of King Edward VII on the identical spot 
where it had remained for nearly thirty-three years. 
It would be safe to say that no one more than Lord 
Napier himself would have appreciated the singular 
and signal honour of giving up his place to the Sovereign 
to whom, as Prince of Wales, he owed so many marks 
of friendship and esteem, and who had himself selected; 
the site to do him honour. It would be equally safe 
to say that no one less than King Edward would have 
desired this to occur. 



La Martiviere, 31s< March, 1858. 

The City of Lucknow 1 stretches in an irregular form on the 
right bank of the Goomteo for a length from East to West 
of nearly 5 miles, and an extreme width at the West side 
of 3£ miles ; the East side diminishes in width to less than 
1 mile. 

Two bridges, one of iron and the other of masonry, span 
the Goomtee, leading the traffic of the country from the 
North of the Goomtee into tho heart of the City. 

A canal of deep and rugged section enclosing the City on 
the East and South sides, boars away to the South-west, leaving 
the approaoh to the West side of the City open, but intersected 
with ravines ; towards tho North-east whero the canal joins 
the Goomtee, its hanks are naturally shelving and passable. 

The City is too extensive to be commanded by any single 
point, and has no such predominant feature as would impera¬ 
tively direct the attack. 


In recommending tho East side for attack, I was guided 
by the following reasons :— 

The West side presents a great breadth of dense and almost 
impenetrable city, resting on the strong buildings on the river 
bank. After overcoming these obstacles, there would have 
remained the Kaiser Bagh with the enemy’s principal defences 
still to be reduced. 

The East side offered: 1st, the smallest front, and was 

1 Vide Map of the Reliefs. Capture of Lucknow, facing p. 90. 




therefore the more easily enveloped by our attack; 2ndly, 
ground for planting our artillery, which was waiting on the 
West side ; and 3rdly, it gave also the shortest approach 
to the Kaiser Bagh, the Royal Garden, and place to which 
the rebels attached the greatest importance; more than all, 
we knew the East side and were little acquainted with the 

The enemy, profiting by experience, had strengthened 
their defences by works exhibiting prodigious labour. Sir 
Colin Campbell’s former route across the canal, where its 
banks shelved, was intercepted by a new line of canal of very 
formidable section, flanked by strong bastions. ThiB line of 
defence was continued up the canal beyond the Char Bagh 
Bridge more or less complete, and tho banks of the canal 
as before noted were scarped and impassable. 

A strong battery for three guns resting against a masB of 
buildings called the Hazrat Ganj, supported the outer line at 
the junotion of three main roads. 

A second line of bastioned rampart and parapet rested 
with its right on the Imam Bara, a strong and lofty building ; 
thence embracing tho 32nd Mess House it joined the river bank 
near the Moti Mahal. 

A third line covered the front of the Kaiser Bagh. 

The enemy'were represented to have about 100 guns, a 
report which was doubted, but has proved quite true. 

The bastions on the outer line of defence were not fully 
armed, the enemy seemed waiting to ascertain our real point 
of attack before bringing forward their guns. 

All the main streets were also commanded by bastions and 
barricades and every building of importance, besides being 
loop-holed, had an outer work protecting its entrance. 

It was ascertained, as one part of the City after another 
fell into our hands, that it had been the intention of the enemy 
to offer a very determined resistance, even after their outer 
lines should be taken. Houses far in the depths of the com¬ 
mercial parts of the City were found carefully defended with 
mud walls and parapets, several of them mounting guns ; 
and in addition to vast quantities of gunpowder found lying 
in large buildings, almost every house had its own small supply. 


Means tor mg Attack 



Naval Brigade : 

Guns, 8-inch ....... 0 

,, 24-pr. ....... 8 

Howitzers, 8-inch ...... 2 

Artillenj : 

Guns, 24-prs. ....... 8 

„ 18-prs. ....... 8 

Howitzers, 10-inch ...... 4 

,, 8-inch ...... 6 

Mortars ........ 43 

A complete Engineer Park with material for two cask bridges 
calculated to bear the heaviest ordnance. 

Having in my possession a very accurate survey of part 
of the City and its environs by the lato Lt. Moorsom of H.M.’s 
52nd Regt. and being aided by the excellent information 
received from the Intelligence Department attached to Major- 
General Sir James Outram, G.C.B., I was enabled at a very 
early period of the operations to determine which side of the 
City offered the greatest facility to our attack. Formidable 
as the defences thrown up by the enemy on the Eastern side of 
the City were described to be, it till appeared most evident 
that they were in reality obstacles less difficult to be over¬ 
come than the heavy and dense portions of the City to the West; 
and I would add here that though I hardly gave full credit 
to the native statements as regards sections and extent of the 
enemy’s works, yet it was proved on inspection that the 
intelligence given me was remarkably good and clear. 

The side of attack being fixed, the two next steps of primary 
importance were, after taking up a position in the Dilkoosha 
Park, to bring a direct fire on those points in the enemy’s 
fortifications in rear of the canal, the fire from which would 
affect the line by which we should cross them, and to enfilade 
those fortifications from the left bank of the Goomtee. 

These two operations being completed, and the first line of 
fortifications in our possession, the next step was to establish 
ourselves at Bank’s House and the Bungalows and from that 
position to reduce the Begum’s Palace. 



A glance at the map 1 will show that this palace is on the 
extreme point of a line of strong buildings, which extend 
to the walls of the Kaiser Bagh, and secure us a covered way 
for our safe but irresistible progress into the heart of tho 
enemy’s position, turning successfully their 2nd and 3rd lines 
of fortifications, and avoiding entirely the fire of their artillery. 

The elevated gateways and roofs of these buildings com¬ 
manding the ground on either flank would give us the choice 
of positions for establishing our batteries to bombard the 
Kaiser Bagh, and the other parts of the town. 

Should the fall of the Kaiser Bagh not entail the abandon¬ 
ment of tho City by the enemy, the successive reduction of their 
strong positions on the banks of the river would be necessary. 

Much importance was attached to vertical fire, for which 
the ample provision of 42 mortars was made in tho siege train. 

The interval which elapsed between the arrival of the 
Engineer establishment at Alum Bagh, and the commence¬ 
ment of tho attack was most valuable, and was profitably 
employed in preparing a large supply of gabions and fascines, 
and proving and perfecting tho Cask bridge ; also in practising 
the Department in the rapid construction of batteries, Field 
Powder magazines, etc., etc. 

Six guns forming Battery No. 4 had been placed in front 
of the Dilkoosha to protect the camp, to keep down the fire 
of the enemy’s batteries on their 1st lino of fortifications, and 
check two or three guns that the enemy had advanced to the 
Northern angle of La Martinicre. 

The first operation of the siege was tho construction of two 
bridges of casks over the Goomtee, below the Dilkoosha 
House on the night of the 4th, and morning of the 6th March. 
On the 6th General Outram’s Division crossed to the left 
bank of the Goomtee, and encamped on the Fyzabad road. 

On the 7th it was supplied with the following ordnance for 
the siege operations on the left bank: four 24-pounders, 
four 18-pounders, four 8-inch howitzers, ten 8-inch mortars ; 

1 The map which accompanied this report is not available, but 
sufficient details, it is hoped, has been entered on the general map 
to enable tho reader to follow the operations. The Begum’s Palace 
lay south-east of the Hazrat Ganj. 


to which were added five 10-inch mortars by order of H.E. the 

On the 8th the enemy’s fortifications were reconnoitred 
from the left bank of tho Goomtee by H.E. the C.-in-C., accom¬ 
panied by the Chief Engineer and Captain Taylor and Major 
Nicholson, R.E. 

During the night a battery (No. 1 R.) for ten guns en barbetto 
was constructed at the Kokral bridge to command the enemy’s 
position near tho Race Stand and opened fire at daylight on 
the 9th. 

On the same day General Outfam, after defeating the 
enemy, occupied the whole of the left bank as far as the 
Badshah Bagh, and established Battery No. 2 R. of twelve guns 
to enfilade the enemy’s first line of fortifications. No cover 
was required. The enemy made no reply, and abandoned their 

During the night of the 8th, Batteries 1 and 2 left the former 
of four guns to batter La Martiniere, and the latter of four 
guns to silence the enemy’s right batteries, were prepared and 
opened fire early on the 9th. 

Two guns of tho Naval Brigade were placed under natural 
cover to fire on La Martiniere in flank and reverse. After a 
severe cannonade La Martiniere was taken on the afternoon of 
the 9th with little resistance from tho enemy and a trifling 


Late in tho afternoon, the 1st line of fortifications having 
been abandoned by the enemy, was seized by the 42nd High¬ 
landers and Wyld’s Sikhs, forming the advance of General 
Lugard’s Division. Our troops penetrated as far as the bridge 
on the La Martiniere Road, and secured themselves in a strong 
position for the night. 

Early on the morning of the 10th, Battery No. 3. (Left) 
for four guns, one howitzer and three 8-inch mortars, was 
established with little labour under natural cover to breach 
and shell Bank’s House, which was taken the same morning. 

In the right attack, Battery No. 4. (R.) for four 24-pounders, 
two 8-inch howitzers, and five 8-inoh mortars was constructed 
near the Badshah Bagh to fire on tho Kaiser Bagh. 

Thus on the morning of the 10th the enemy’s first and most 


formidable line of fortifications had been completely taken 
possession of. 

In the left attack, Battery No. 4 (L.) for four guns and 
eight mortars was constructed near Bank’s House to breach and 
bombard the Begum’s Palace. In addition to this, two guns 
(one 8-inch gun and one 8-inch howitzer) of the Naval Brigade 
were placed in position in the D bungalows, 1 and six 6|-inch 
mortars, their fire being also directed against the Bogum’s 
Palace and the bastion in front of Huzrat Gunj, 

These batteries were selected and the guns brought up 
with such energy that they opened very soon after Bank’s 
House was in our possession. 

Communications were made between the bungalows and 
Bank’s House. 

On the right attack, roadways for guns were made through 
the Badshah Bagh ; and the Dilaram House was soized and 
fortified, under a heavy fire from tho Chuttor Munzil. 

During the night a battery No. 4. (R.) of four 24-pounder 
guns, two 8-inch howitzers and five mortars, was erected in 
front of the Badshah Bagh and opened fire at daybreak on 
Kaiser Bagh. 

The fire from our batteries which had been continued all 
night, having made two practicable breaches in the Compound 
wall of the Begum’s Palace, and severely shelled the interior, 
it was taken by assault at 3.30 p.m. 

The European barracks and Kuddum Russool were also 
occupied on the morning of this day. 

A breastwork was thrown up during the night for two 
guns to firo at the enemy’s bastion in their 2nd line of for¬ 
tifications, which commanded the road leading past the 
Begum’s Palace from Bank’s House. 

A serai on tho right of this road had been taken at tho same 
time as the Begum’s Palace. A battery No. 5 (R.) for two 
24-pounders was thrown up on the North side of the Goomtee, 
and on tho right side of the Iron Bridge to subdue the enemy’s 
fire from the opposite side of the bridge and command the Stone 

On the morning of the 12th the attacking force on the left 
1 N.E. of Major Bank’s house. 



then held a strong position in the Begum’s Palace, the European 
barraoks, the Kuddum Russool, tho Secundra Bagh, and the 
Shah Nujjeef ; whilst the right attack was in position from the 
Iron Bridge to tho Badshah Bagh. 

Openings were made during the night into Jaffir Ali’s Com¬ 
pound, and a serai on the right of the road occupied, in advance 
of the one taken tho preceding evening, together with a mosque 
overlooking it. 

Four 8-inch mortars wero moved into this Berai, and two 
8-inch mortars placed in position in its roar, also five 10-inch 
mortars placed in the serai taken on the 11th March, the fire 
from all being directed on the Imam Bara and buildings 
between us and the Kaiser Bagh. 

In the right attack, one battery No. 6 (R.) for four 8-inch 
guns was erected in front of the Badshah Bagh to fire on the 
Residency and thence on the buildings extending to the Kaiser 

Another battery for two 24-pounders was erected on the 
left of the Iron Bridge to subdue the fire from the opposite 
side of the river. 

At daybreak of the 13th tho house and compound oalled 
Fcrar o Dowlah’s, in advance of Jaffa Ali’s, was taken pos¬ 
session of, entrances having been cut during the night. 

A battery (No. 8 L.) was formed within 70 yards of the 
Imam Bara and in Ferah o Dowlah’s compound for two guns 
(one 8-inch, one 24-pounder) to breach the outer wall of the 
Imam Bara. The guns were placed in position in tho after¬ 
noon, and by evening had effectually breached the outer wall 
and partly breached the inner. 

In the right attack, four 8-inch mortars wero added to the 
armament on the right bank of the Badshah Bagh, so that 
wo had a fire on the Kaiser Bagh this day of ten 8-inch, four 
10-inch mortars, four 24-pounders, two 10-inch howitzers, and 
on the City from the Iron Bridge batteries of three 24-pounders 
and one 8-inch howitzer. 

On the left we had five 10-inch, nine 8-inch, and four 5f-inch 
mortars directed on the Imam Bara and tho Kaiser Bagh with 
the intermediate buildings. 

On the 14th Maroh, a heavy fire having been kept up all 



night on the breaches until 9 a.m. of this day, the breaohes 
into the Imam Bara were deemed practicable, and accordingly 
the building was assaulted and taken at 10 a.m. without 
much opposition from the enemy. 

The troops following up this assault by an advance along 
the road towards the Kaiser Bagh, obtained possession of 
an outer courtyard of the Palace itself ; and the Engineer 
Officers and men were busily employed for the remainder of 
this day in securing this portion of the Kaiser Bagh, and the 
Mess House, Motee Mahal, and Tora Kotoo, all of which build¬ 
ings were found deserted by the enemy. 

On the right attack, we held the same position as yesterday, 
our batteries principally directing their fire on the Residency 
and other buildings in advance of the Chutter Munzil. 

The 15th found us in possession of all the principal buildings 
up to the Chutter Munzil between the City and the Goomtee, 
and a secure lodgment in the Kaiser Bagh. 

Engineering operations were immediately directed to assist 
the troops through the remainder of the various courtyards of 
the Palace, to complete our communications with the rear, and 
to clear away such parts of the enemy’s works aB impeded 
free and practicable communications between the different 

On the morning of the 16th General Sir James Outram, 
G.C.B., crossed the Goomtee by the bridge of casks, and drove 
the enemy from the Residency and Iron Bridge, and later in the 
day seized the Muchee Bhawun Stone Bridge and Imam Bara. 

Six 8-inch mortars were immediately placed in position 
in tho Imam Bara, and maintained a steady bombardment 
on the enemy’s position in the City throughout the night. 
Two Naval guns and five 10-inch mortars were also posted at the 
Residency, and kept up a steady firo upon tho City during 
the night of the 16th and morning of the 17th. 

From this time all siege operations ceased, though parties 
of tho enemy still obstinately clung to the streets of the City 
and suburbs, and were not dislodged till several days after¬ 

I have no precise information concerning the proceedings 
of the force of His Highness Jung Bahadoor, which acted on 


the opposite border of the Hty at too great a distance for its 
effects to be visible from our lino of attack. 

On the 17th of March, by desire of H.E. the Commander-in- 
Chief, the Goorka picquets were extended from the Char Bagh 
bridge down the Cawnpore road, to connect with thoso of the 
British Regiments in the Kaiser Bagh, wh ich had advanced half¬ 
way between the two points. 

The Char Bagh bridge was repaired by order of General 
McGregor, material being furnished for the purpose by the 
Engineer Park, and communication along the Cawnpore road 
was completely opened. . . , 



By His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, Adjutant 
General’s Office, Head Quarters, Camp Dalanta Plain, 20th 
April 1868. 

“ Soldiers and Sailors of the Army of Abyssinia.” 

The Queen and the people of England entrusted to you a 
very arduous and difficult Expedition; to roloase our Country¬ 
men from a long and painful Captivity, and to vindicate the 
honour of our Country, which had been outraged by Theodore, 
King of Abyssinia. 

I congratulate you with all my heart, on the noble way in 
which you have fulfilled the Commands of our Sovereign. 

You have traversed, often under a tropical Sun, or amidst 
storms of rain and sleet, four hundred miles of mountainous 
and rugged country. 

You have crossed ranges of mountains, (many steep and 
precipitous), more than ten thousand feet in altitude, where 
your supplies could not keep pace with you. 

In four days you passed the formidable Chasm of tho Bashilo, 
and, when within reach of your enemy, though with scanty 
food, and some of you even for many hours without either 
food or water, you defeated the Army of Theodore, which 
poured down upon you from its lofty Fortress in full confidence 
of Victory. 

A Host of many thousands have laid down their arms at 
your feet. 

You have captured and destroyed upwards of thirty pieces 
of Artillery, many of great weight and efficiency, with ample 
Stores of Ammunition. 




You have stormed the almost inaccessible Fortress of Mag- 
dala, defended by Theodore and a desperate remnant of his 
Chiefs and Followers. 

After you forced the entrance to his Fortress, Theodore, 
who himself never showed mercy, distrusted the offer of it 
held out to him by me, and died by his own hand. 

You have released not only the British Captives but those of 
other friendly Nations. 

You have unloosed tho chains of more than ninoty of the 
principal Chiefs of Abyssinia. 

Magdala, on which so many victims have been slaughtered, 
has been committed to tho flames, and now remains only a 
scorched Rock. 

Our complote and rapid success is due, Firstly—To the mercy 
of God, whose Hand, I feel assured, has been over us in a just 
cause ; Secondly—To the high spirit with which you have been 
inspired ! 

Indian Soldiers havo forgotten the prejudices of Race and 
Creed to keep pace with their European Comrades. 

Never did any Army entor on a War with more honourable 
feelings than yours. This it is that has carried you through 
so many fatigues and difficulties ; your solo anxiety has been 
for the moment to arrive when you could close with your 

The remembrance of your privations will pass away quickly ; 
your gallant exploit will live in History. 

The Queen and tho people of England will appreciate and 
acknowledge your services ; on my part, as your Commander, 
I thank you for your devotion to your duty, and the good 
discipline you have maintained throughout. 

Not a single complaint has been made against a Soldier, of 
fields injured, or villagers wilfully molested, either in person or 

We must not, however, forget what we owe to our Comrades 
who have been labouring for us in the sultry climate of Zoolla,— 
the Pass of Koomaylee, or in the monotony of the posts which 
maintained our communications. One and all would have 
given everything they possessed to be with us ; they doserve 
our Gratitude. 


I shall watch over your safety to the moment of your re¬ 
embarkation ; and shall to the end of my life remember with 
pride, that I have Commanded you. 

R. NAPIER, Lieutenant-General, 





Simla, May 4th, 1875. 

The Shah of Persia having expressed a wish to restore the 
friendly relations which formerly oxisted between Great Britain 
and Persia, and to receive assistance in Military Officers, etc., 
to discipline and train his army, the question has arisen, 
whether wo should meet his wishes and give the assistance 
which he asks for. 

2. It may be objected to the measure that the Persians have 
shown themselves always a fickle and unreliable people : that 
the very troops that our officers formerly trained were employed 
in direct opposition to our wishes and interests, against Afghan¬ 
istan, so that it required a war to stop them. 

3. That the supplying of officers free of all charge, may cause 
diplomatic complications with Russia, while, on the other 
hand, to secure regular payment from the Persian Government 
would be very difficult. 

4. Moreover it is said, that Persia has some kind of agreement 
with Russia, for a joint action against the Turcomans. 

6. Finally, it might be urged, that such a sudden impulse 
of friendship and alliance with Persia, culminating in a supply 
of officers and, possibly, in some pecuniary assistance, will give 
umbrage to the Russian Government, which, as far as we know, 
has not made any very recent movo, nor done more than make 
some friendly advances to the Ameer Shere Ali; and has not, 
as yet, made a move against the Turcomans of Merve; but 
we feel no confidence that she has not some sudden move in 
contemplation, which will como upon us unawares and under 
a shower of artful explanations, or a bold assertion that the 
measure is necessary for Russia. 




Those who advocate inaction, on the ground of these argu¬ 
ments, would, it appears to me, havo us to remain quiescent 
until Russia aotually infringes on the territory of Afghanistan, 
and if she should occupy the northern part of Persia, that 
we should accept the situation and take the southern parts 
near the sea. I confess, I think there is great danger in this 
shrinking policy, which increases as it grows older, and would 
lead us to be inactive, perhaps fruitlessly protesting and being 
disregarded, until Russian bases of action shall have been 
formed on the salient points around India. Each advance of 
theirs would render it more difficult for uS to repel others, until 
the disquiet in India would unsettle the minds of our subjects, 
would deprive them of all confidence in our power of protection, 
and ipvolve us in a protective expenditure, in order to be ready 
at every point, that our revenue could not meet. 

The difference between our position and that of the Russians 
is, that they being Asiatic themselves, and constantly absorb¬ 
ing the people of the countries which they conquer, take a 
firmer root in the ground they occupy, than we seem ever likely 
to do in India. 

They are incorporating with the mother country, its new 
acquisitions, by rail and steam, and by planting colonies, while 
we are separated from our real base by the sea, and depend 
mainly on our admirable and invincible 60,000 Europeans, a 
resource which is exhaustible ! 

Under this view of our position, I think, we should do 
everything in our power to prevent the nearer approach of 

The Black Sea treaty should stand before us, as a warning 
that the opportunity only is required to induce the Russian 
Government to repudiate, boldly, any obligations or assuranoes 
that may have served to disarm our measures of self-pre¬ 

I do not think Russia in Central Asia is at all ready for a 
struggle now. If we were to advance an Army against her 
possession of the Khanates, we should probably give oppor¬ 
tunity to all the recently conquered people to rise, and we 
might drive her back for a certain number of years, but the 
effort would be much more costly for us, than for them, and 


could not be often repeated ; whereas their discomfiture would 
be temporary, and would soon be recovered. 

I have not adverted to the moral objection, that we should 
have, to depriving the parts of Central Asia, now being brought 
within reach of civilization, of its benefits, and to throw them 
back into anarchy ; because it is as little likely that we should 
launch suoh an expedition against Russia, as that she should 
send one from such a distance against India. 

It is necessary that we should keep Russia at arms’ length, 
by means of Afghanistan and Persia, and prevent her, by 
every means in oar power, from absorbing any portion of 
them ; and to this end I would give Persia tho friendship she 
seeks, and the assistance in officers and subordinates that she 

I would also strengthen the Embassy by well selected 
officers from India, placing one at the Head Quarters of the 
Embassy, and one at Meshed. 

I think they should be military officers, as the questions 
they have to watch and study are military ; and they should 
have the means of being liberal, and of making their influence 
felt, and their friendship valuable. 

They should bo men acquainted with Persian, and of genial 
manners and disposition, calculated to disarm enmities and 
make friends. 

Bearing in mind our former troubles in Afghanistan, they 
should be men of irreproachable conduct. 

I cannot doubt that the services of India could produce 
many such men. 

These officers should have tho means of maintaining reliable 
agents in tho Russian possessions, to obtain information. 

Further, I should comply with the wishes of Persia by sending 
her officers to instruct the troops. 

The unpleasantness of having to press the Porsian Govern¬ 
ment for payment might be avoided by paying the officers 
from the Indian Treasury, and tho diplomatic difficulty be 
removed, by arranging that the Persian Government should 
pay suoh small additional allowances as it would not distress 
them to meet; it does not appear, that any difficulty on these 
points should be considered insuperable. 



Next, with regard to the conduct of Persia, it does not 
become us to condemn her for her fickleness as our own policy 
has not been free from reproach on that ground. 

We do not know whether diplomatic mismanagement may 
not have caused the Persians to disregard the advice of the 
British Minister, in the action against Affghanistan : we have 
at times been apprehensive of Affghanistan, and have directed 
the mind of Persia against her. 

Only recently Lord J. Russell said, that the Persians and 
Affghans might settle the Seistan question by force of arms. 

Our officers and Drill Instructors were withdrawn before the 
campaign against Herat. 

It is not necessary for us to be offended at Persia having 
entered into any kind of plan with the Russians, for coercing 
the Turcomans of Merve. 

What was her situation ? With Russia pressing on her in 
the north, by its demands and pretensions, and undermining 
her administration by intrigue ; threatening her with the 
necessity of Russian action and encroachment on account of 
the Turcomans’ excursions and lawlessness, which Persia is 
too feeble to repress ; on the other hand, the eastern Persian 
borders ravaged by these same Turcomans, who are only pre¬ 
vented from making it completely desolate by the resistance 
maintained at a few points, by ill-supjjorted chiefs and their 
clans ! 

It is extremely natural that Persia, with no other resource 
to look to, should fall into any plans for relief, that Russia 
may offer, to put an end to such a state of affairs, even with a 
conviction that the bargain would be a very hard one, ending 
in landing the Russians well across the Attrek. 

The final objection, that the sudden renewal of intimate 
relations with Persia may give umbrage to Russia, is part of 
the “ shrinking policy.” 

That it will apj>ear inconvenient to Russia is most probable, 
but Russia will have no real right to take umbrage at our 
renewing our ancient relations with Persia, which do not and 
cannot threaten her possessions ; if Russia does take offence, 
it will be simply because it would interfere with her pluns of 
encroachment, which we cannot too soon unmask and arrest. 



There remains to be considered what effect the approxima¬ 
tion to Persia will have on our relations with Afghanistan. 

The aotion of the latter state, or rather of its ruler, Shere 
Ali, has been far from friendly. 

At the time of the meeting .vith Lord Mayo, he was disposed 
to receive our agents, if the reports of conversations are at all 
to be relied on. 

In all that Shere Ali is reported to have said, and in the 
conversation of his Envoy at Simla, in 1873, the constantly 
recurring point was the Seistan question ! 

It appears that the national pride is bent upon that point 
of antagonism with Persia, and that the hopes of Shere Ali, 
and his people rested on our deciding that they should recover 
what had been gradually taken from them by Persia, even, it is 
said, to some extent, while tl e Afghans withheld their own 
hands at our bidding. 

Had that question been decided in the way that, in the 
rooted belief of the Afghans w as the just way, it is probablo, 
that we should have had no difficulty in establishing Agents 
at Herat, or Kandahar, or, and a visit from a British 
Envoy might have been welcomed at Kabul. 

But the decision, according to Afghan belief, went the 
other way, viz. entirely in favour of Persia. 

The maimer in which the British Commissioner was check¬ 
mated by the Persian Commissioner, and the arbitration 
jumped at, in spite of the object ons of Pollock and the Afghan 
representative, has of course bee 1 made known to the Afghans, 
and we appear in the light of .'also friends, who having tied 
down the Afghans by our advice, and the promises which we 
exacted from them, allowed their territory to be alienated. 

Of course much might bo said of our anxiety to relieve the 
Afghans of any thing that could interfere with the restoration 
of a firm government; that Persia, if it had come to war, 
would have had better means of taking, than the Afghans of 
holding, Seistan, and that the si ruggic would have risked the 
throne of Kabul for Shere Ali. 

These reasonings, if put, would never be admitted by an 
Afghan mind, especially since the improved stability of the 
Government has given confidence. 



The Seistan business appears to me quite sufficient to account 
for Shere Ali’s altered conduct, in addition to his disappoint¬ 
ment that we would not make a treaty to assist him, without 
reserving a right to judge whether his conduct merited our 
assistance, and that we would not commit ourselves to ac¬ 
knowledge his son, Abdoolla Jon. 

Why ho has retired from the reception of the money that 
was available for him, although he takes the arms, it is not easy 
to say ; possibly because he fears some conditions may accom¬ 
pany the gift as has been suggested. 

However it may have been caused, it is certain that Shere 
Ali, who came down to Umballa to see Lord Mayo, and was 
reported willing to receive our agents, refused a passage 
through his country to Sir D. Forsyth’s mission, and has left 
his subsidy untouched. 

It is most likely that, in this jealous mood, he will view 
with suspicion any assistance of the kind asked for, that may 
be given to Persia. 

To counteract this, it would be expedient to send a Native 
Envoy to Kabul, as advised by the Nawab Gholam Hussun 

The business of the agent would be, to endeavour to obtain 
the confidence of Shere Ali. 

To intimate to him that it is necessary, for our mutual 
interests, that we should have agents to ascertain what is going 
on in Central Asia, and give us warning of anything likely 
to affect us injuriously. 

That we should be glad to have them at Balkh and Herat, 
but as he has not felt able yet to invite us to send them there 
we have been obliged to employ them from the Persian sidei. 

Shere Ali should be assured that the operation of the diplo¬ 
matic agents, and officers in Persia, would be guided by the 
principle, that nothing is to be done that could give umbrage 
to Affghanistan. 

He might be reminded that we twice made war on Persia 
to drive her away from Herat. 

The military officers, and the troops that may be placed 
under them, if properly employed, would enable Persia to 
establish posts, to protect her frontier, so as to leave no pretext 


for Russian interference in the north, and to give peace to her 
people in Khorasan. 

The actual selection of tht officers, and the terms of their 
employment are matters of detail, to be settled when the main 
action shall have been deterr lined. 

They should have the means of living liberally, independent 
of the stipend to be received from the Persian Government. 

The seniors should speak Persian, but the others may leam 
it, if held under some obligatim, after arriving in the country. 
The selection of officers well suited for the duty required, is 
more important than that they should carry a knowledge of 
Persian with them, though this would be of the utmost value. 

I should prefer Sir R. Montgomery’s plan of giving Indian 
Drill Instructors instead of English ones, and among the officers 
selected should he some good leaders of Irregular Cavalry. 

We have long wanted to advance agents and plant them 
as standpoints towards Central Asia. 

The side of Affghanistan n ay not immediately be open to 
us, though Shere Ali has not recently been made aware of our 
wishes ; but we have a favourable opportunity of re-establish¬ 
ing our influence in Persia, and of placing a barrier against 
further Russian encroachment on the side of the Attrek. 

If we lose the opportunity t may not occur again, and we 
shall have cause to repent it, for we need it more than ever. 

We should do all in our power to prevent Russia from working 
round our flanks. 

If she were to seize the northern part of Persia, we should 
at once oppose it. The people of Persia, supported by a 
British Contingent, and aided by British arms, supplies and 
officers, would render the task of conquering the country as 
difficult and exhaustive as the conquest of the Spanish 
Peninsula was to France. 




Extracted from “Hansard's Parliamentary DebatesVol. 


House of Lords, 
Friday , 29 th July , 1887. 

Lord Napier of Magdala asked the Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs, Whether Her Majesty’s Government would 
take any steps towards mediating between the Government 
of Italy and King John of Abyssinia, in order to prevent, if 
possible, the loss of life and the misery which a war between 
Italy and Abyssinia would entail, and also to enable Her 
Majesty’s Government to fulfil the 1st Article of tho Treaty 
with Ring John of Abyssinia, which guaranteed for him a free 
transit through Massowah ? The noble and gallant Lord said, 
be was induced to ask the Question by a grateful remembrance 
of the assistance afforded by King John and the Abyssinian 
people to the British troops in Abyssinia, It was not his 
desire to enter on the question of the occupation of Massowah 
by the Italian troops. Although Massowah was really a part 
of Abyssinia, and ought, by right, to be restored to King John ; 
yet, unfortunately, in the present state of his country, he could 
not hold it against any country possessed of a Fleet. He 
(Lord Napier, of Magdala) confessed that he viewed with 
satisfaction the occupation of the African Coast by a highly 
honourable and enlightened nation such as the Italians, and 
hoped that close intercourse with Abyssinia would lead to 
much social improvement of that country. King John had 
done much to create law and order in Abyssinia. He ruled 




over a wild and unrulj- people, including many feudal ChiefB 
of considerable power, and therefore had had to exercise some 
severity. They must not forget that it was not very long since 
their own Penal Code was vsry severe ; but King John had 
done much for the improvem >.nt of Abyssinia, and for promot¬ 
ing commerce ; and it would be a subject of great regret if 
war should throw back all t rat progress. The origin of the 
quarrel was not generally known ; but it was supposed that 
the Italians had advanced 01 the neutral ground which had 
been previously maintained b ^tween. Abyssinia and Massowah. 
Probably the Commanders ( n both sides had gone beyond 
the wishes of their Rulers. It was much to bo regretted that 
Abyssinia did not appeal for he mediation of England before 
blood had been shed. If the} could possibly mediate between 
the two countries, it would be a benefit to humanity. The 
Italians were a military natior with a highly disciplined army, 
and perfect weapons of offenc e, and there could bo no doubt 
that they must ultimately prevail; but the Abyssinians also 
were a brave race of hunters, and good marksmen ; their 
country was very difficult. 1* the advance through the long 
dangerous passes would be difficult with an enemy thoroughly 
acquainted with the country, able to travel long distances 
rapidly, and requiring little commissariat, a retreat might be 
disastrous, as the passes were liable to sudden floods which 
came with little warning, and iwcpt away everything in their 
path. He trusted that Her Majesty’s Government would 
endeavour to mediate betweer the two countries. It would 
be a great benefit to humanity. 


Abadie, Lt., 241 
Abbott, Lt.-Gen. Sir J., 57 
Abbott, Col. S., 35, 45, 46, 47, 48, 
40, 110 

Abdur Rahman, Amir, 307 
Ajit Singh, 114 
Akbar, 17 
Ali Doola Jan, 282 
Anderson, Mr., 148 
Anderson, Lt., 60 
Anson, Capt., 42 
Anson, Gon., 71 
Argyll, Duke of, 280 
Auchmuty, Sir S., 5 

Baker, Gen. Sir W., 69, 124, 130, 
157, 161, 104, 168, 172, 173, 185, 
257, 259, 202, 280, 289 
Baliiol, King John, 100 
Baroda, Gaekwar of, 281 
Barr, Col., 47 

Beaconsfield, Earl, 253, 300, 309 
Beecher, Col., 95 
Benares, Maharajah, 14 
Berkley, Col., 91 
Birch, Col., 45 

Birdwood, F. M. Sir W., 261 
Bismarck, Prince, 302 
Blanc, Mt., 233 
Boileau, Col. S., 64 
Bowlby, 148 

Brabazon, Capt., 149, 163 
Brasyer, C'apt., 76 
Bray, Lt.-Col., 248 
Briggs, Major, 244 
Broadfoot, Major, 39, 41, 44, 40, 

Brown, Capt., 120, 121 
Browno, Gon. Sir S., 304 
Brownlow, Lt.. 126 
Brownlow, Gen., 290 
Burlton, Lt., 110 

Cambridge, Duke of, 182, 183, 184, 
187, 191, 192, 197, 203, 211, 223, 
253, 259, 278, 280, 288, 304, 305, 
312. 313, 315, 319 
Cauldron, Mr., 233 
Cameron, Lt.-Col., 239 
Campbell, Col., 74, 75 
Campbell, Gen. Sir Colin. See 

Canning, Lord, 122, 161, 164, 169, 
170, 171 

Carnarvon, Earl of, 297 
Carnook, Lord, 277 
Carrington, Sir E., 2 
Carrington, Catherine, 2 
Carrington, George, 7 
Cautlev, Col., 17, 18, 19, 20 
Cavagnari, Major, 305 
Cotowayo, King, 302 
Chamberlain, Messrs., 69 
Chamberlain, Gen. Sir N., 178, 
270, 303 

Chamberlain, Major, 238, 239, 240 
Cheapo, Col., 63 


Codrington, Major, 42, 43 
Colinouu, Gen., 133, 143, 157 
Connaught, Duko and Duchess of, 

Corbyn, Mrs., 177 
Cranborne, Lord, 193 
Crofton, Col., 182 
Crommelin, Col., 83, 85, 105 
CrosSman, Lt., 45 
Crump, Capt., 70 
Currie, Dr., 241 
Curzon, Marcjuis, 108 


Chelmsford, Gen. Lord, 302, 303 
Chesnoy, Gon. Sir CL, 163 
Childers, Mr., 312 
Clyde, F.-M. Lord, 71, 80, 87, 89, 
90; 91, 08, 100, 112, 122, 125, 



Dalhouaie, Earl, 05, 69, 70 
do Bude, Capt., 15 
Denison, Sir W., 177, 181 
Dennis, Brig., 45 
de Norman, 148 

d’Escaifrae do Lantour, M., 162 
de Thoren, Lt., 248 
de Torres y Ferrado, Gen., 297 
Dick, Lt., 110 

Dillon, Gen. Sir M., 12, 190, 312, 

Duffy, Pte., 70 

Durand, Col. Sir H., 11, 175, 200 

Edward, Prince of Wales (after¬ 
wards King Edward VII), 293, 
294, 311, 322 

Edwardes, Sir H., GO, 61, 62 
Eglinton, Earl of, 1 
Elgin, Earl, 135, 146, 148, 154, 
165, 167, 171, 173, 175, 177, 179 
Elgin, Countess, 180 
Ellenborough, Lord, 34, 37 
Eyro, Gen. Sir V., 11, 163 

Farquhar, Admiral, 310 
Fellowes, Capt., 239, 240 
Field, Col., 240, 249 
Firoz Shah, 116, 117, 120, 121 
FitzGerald, Sir S., 194, 195, 204, 
213, 216, 216 
Flad, Mr., 233, 242 
Forsyth, Sir D., 275 
Frere, SirBartle, 127,128,169,181, 
189, 190, 193, 190, 198,270,302 
Fullerton, Col. J., 9 
Fullor, Capt., 120 

Garden, Col., 44 
Garvock, Capt., 43 
Gasulee, Gen. Sir A., 238 
George, Prince (afterwards King 
George V), 311 
Germany, Emperor of, 296 
Germany, Crown Princess, after¬ 
wards Empress of, 28, 319 
Gilbert, Gen., 42, 40 
Gilbert, Gen. Sir W., 63 
Gladstone, Mr. W. E., 186, 309 
Golab Singh, Maharajah, 68 
Goldsmid, Gen., 275, 276 
Goodfellow, Capt., 238 

Gordon, Gen., 315 
Gortchakoff, Prince, 274 
Gough, F.-M. Viscount (Gen. Sir 
Hugh Gough), 40, 41, 45, 60, 63, 
55, 63, 64 

Grant, Major, 222, 235 
Grant, Gen. Sir Hope, 88, 130, 
133, 134, 136, 136, 142, 146, 140, 
147, 149, 151, 152, 154, 157, 169, 
183, 186, 194 

Grant, F.-M. Sir Patrick, 41, 42, 
43, 71, 112, 320 
Granville, Ear), 273 
Graves, Col., 238, 243 
Groathed, Major, 128, 143 
Grey, Mr., 169, 175 
Griffith, Capt., 238 

Haines, Gen. Sir F., 295 
Halifax, Viscount, 160, 161, 102, 
103, 180, 188 
Halsbury, Earl of, 318 
Hamilton, Sir R., 107 
Haniinge, Capt., 76, 80 
Hardinge, F.-M. Viscount, 40, 41, 
15, 50, 66, 66 
Hastings, Lord, 10, 22 
Haughton, Col., 42 
Havelock, Capt., 90 
Havelock, Gen. Sir H., 71, 73, 74, 
75, 82, 83, 85, 80, 90, 93 
Holland, Major, 202 
Home, Col., 301 

Hope, Admiral, 130, 134, 140, 
149, 156 

Hereford, Capt., 42 
liozier, Capt., 202 
Hudson, Capt., 82 
Huntingdon, Lady, 7 
Hutchinson, Gen., 91, 92, 99 

Ingiis, Gen., 104 
Innis, Lt.-Col. F. R., 91 
Irvine, Brig., 63 
Isaacs, Sir H., 321 
isvolsky, Mr., 277 

Jamin, Gen., 133 
Jamisons, Gen., 5 
John, King of Abyssinia (Prince 
Kassai), 222, 220, 261, 318 
Johnson, Col., 191 



Jones, Admiral, 131 
Jones, Sir W., 28 

Kashmir, Maharajah of, 272 
Kassai, Prince. See John, King 
Kavanagh, 70, 88, 89 
Kennedys of Culzean, 1 
Kitchener, F.-M, Earl, 168 
Kung, Prince of, 154, 155 

Laing, Mr., 171, 181 
Lake, Lord, 16 
Lake, Lt,, 61, 62 

Lawrence, Col. Sir Henry, 18, 67, 
60, 07, 71, 183 

Lawrence, Lord, 64, 181, 182, 183, 
185, 187, 188, 189, 204, 259, 305 
Liddell, Col., 114, 117, 120, 121 
Lightfoot, Major, 110, 120 
Littler, Gen., 45 

Lock, Lord, 149, 162, 233, 240, 244 
Louth, Col., 121 
Lugard, Col. Sir E., 58, 205 
Lumsden, Gen. Sir Peter, 149, 150, 

Luinsdon, Gen. Sir Harry, 207 
Lytton, Earl of, 276, 304, 305 

McCabe, Capt., 76 
MacDonnoll, Capt., 239 
MacGregor, Gen. Sir C., 277 
Mackenzie, Col., 150 
Maekeson, Col., 64, 68 
Macpherson, Major, 107, 108 
McMahon, Major, 121 
Mahdi, The, 316 
Maitland, Lt.-Gen. Sir T., 4 
Malleson, Capt., 89, 90, 163 
Mansfield, Gen. Sir W. Vide 

Man Singh, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119 
Markham, Brig., 62 
Marrett, Major, 249 
Marriott, Col., 213 
Mayo, Earl, 257, 259, 264, 267, 268 
Mayo, Countess, 268 
Meade, Capt., 119, 120 
Morewether, Brig.-Gen. Sir H., 
207, 209, 214, 217, 285 
Michel, Gen., 113,114,115,130,154 
Miller, Major, 244 
Milward, Col., 140, 240 

Minto, Earl, 5 

Montauban, Gen. C. de, 129, 133, 

Montgomery, Sir R., 11, 175, 177 
Moolraj, 60 
Moore, Capt., 236 
Moorsom, Capt., 75, 83, 84 
Morier, Sir R., 313 
Mortimer, Lt., 238 
Muntzinger, Mr., 214, 230 

Nadir Shah, 17 
Napier, Hon. A. E. 

Napier, Major C. P. (father), 1, 2, 3 
Napier, Lt. C. E. (uncle), 1, 3 
Napier, Capt. C, (brother), 7, 9, 24 
Napier, Jean (grandmother), 1 
Napier, William (grandfather), 1, 2 
Napier, Mrs., 26, 28, 31, 32, 33, 38, 

Napier, Mrs. (mother), 2, 3, 6, 9, 
^ 13, 21, 22, 24, 25, 38, 60, 72, 92 
Napier, Mary, Lady Napier of 
Magdala, 159, 232 
Napier, Colonel, Lord Napier of 
Magdala, 67 

Napier, General Sir Charles, 193 
Napier and Ettrick, Lord, 268 
Nicolas II, Czar, 278 
Nizam of Hyderabad, 263 
Norman, Gen. Sir H., 167, 206 
North, Bon. F., 3 
Northbrook, Earl, 269, 270, 271, 
275, 282, 283, 286, 289, 292, 293 
Northcote, Sir Stafford (Earl of 
Iddesleigh), 211, 212, 216, 223, 

Olpherts, Gen. Sir W., 76, 77, 80 
Outram, Gen. Sir James, 71, 73, 
75, 80, 81, 82, 85, 80, 89. 90, 91, 
93, 98, 99, 104, 105, 127, 128, 
138, 160 

Palliser, Major, 250 
Palmerston, Lord, 186 
Pan mure, Lord, 71 
Parke, Brig., 115, 149, 152 
Pasloy, Col., 12 

Pearse, Lt. G, (afterwards General) 

Pearse, Mrs., 20 



Peter, the Great, Czar, 279 
Phayre, Gen. Sir R., 201, 202, 214, 

Pollard, Mrs., 7 
Pottinger, Eldred, 11 
Prendergast, Major, 240 
Prettyman, Capt., Ill 
Prideaux, Mr., 233, 242, 243 
Pritohard, Major, 239 
Purnell, Lt.-Col., 74, 70, 83, 84, 85 

Queen Alexandra (Princess of 
Wales). 310 

Queen Viotoria, 208, 217, 242, 253 

Rajah Singh, 121 
Ramsbottom, Lt., 238 
Rao Sahib, 120, 121 
Rassam, Mr., 217, 233, 243 
Rawson, Capt., 44 
Rice, Capt., 117 
Richardson, Col., 170 
Roberts, Capt., 241 
Roberts, F.-M. Earl, 250, 271, 270, 
281, 292, 304, 305 
Roberts, Gon. Sir A., 300 
Roberts, Gen., 108, 114 
Robertson, Col., 115, 222 
Romaine, Mr., 288 
Rose, Gen. Sir H. Vide. Strath- 

Runjeot Singh, 30, 00 
Russell, Lt., 90 
Russell, Lord, 180 

Salisbury, Marquis of, 280, 289, 317 
Sandhurst, Lord, 112, 183, 187, 
188, 189, 205, 200, 207, 210, 
211, 200 

Sargeant, Lt.-Col., 139 
Saxony, King of, 290 
Schneider, Brig.-Gen., 238 
Scott, Lt., 243 
Scratchley, Dr., 10 
Scudamore, Col., 139 
Shah Jehan, 18 

Sher Ali, Amir, 274, 275, 276, 292, 
303, 304 

Sher Singh, Rajah, 02 
Showers, Brig., 114, 174 
Simmons, Major, 75, 76 
Simmons, F.-M. Sir L., 297 

Sitwell, Capt., 90 
Skobeleff, Gen., 277 
Smith, Capt., 19 
Smith, Brig. E., 52, 53, 58, 116 
Spain, King of, 307 
Speedy, Capt., 230, 244 
Stanley, Mr., 200, 216, 227, 229, 
239, 240 

Stanley, Lord, 215, 210 
Staveley, Gen. Sir C., 147, 207, 
208, 211, 212, 218, 233, 238, 241, 
243, 244, 245, 279 
Stoed, Mr., 278 

Strathnairn, F.-M. Lord, 107, 108, 
114, 167, 172, 174 
Sullivan, Col., 45 
Sweeny, Lt., 240, 241 
Sykes, Col., 68 

Tantia Topi, 108, 113, 114, 115, 
117, 119, 120, 121 
Taylor, Col., 62 
Taylor, Capt., 94, 95 
Taylor, Lt., 240 
Temple, Sir R., 283, 285, 280 
Terelii, Signor, 25 
Theodore, King, 200, 202, 208, 
213, 210, 217, 224, 228, 233, 237, 
241, 245 

Thompson, Major, 120 
Trevelyan, Sir C., 173, 176,181,282 
Tritton, Lt., 43 

Vanackor, Mr., 26 
Vans Agnew, Lt., 60 
Vemor, Capt. W., 311 

Wade, Mr., 158 
Waldemar, Prinoe, 38 
Walpole, 194 
Walters, Capt., 296 
Wellington, Duke of, 122, 272, 319 
Wheeler, Brig.-Gon., 67, 68, 69 
Whish, Major-Gen., 61, 63 
Wilby, Brig.-Gen., 88 
Williams, Mr., 286 
Wilson, Brig.-Gen., 88 
Wood, Sir C. See Halifax 

Yakub Khan, Prince, 275, 292, 
304, 305 

Yule, Col. Sir Henry, 37, 319 


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through these pages mysterious names will become intelligible 
and the appearance and habits of the plants they stand for will 
be discovered. There are any number of beautiful things to 
be had which are out of the ordinary and yet cost no more than 
the usual kinds that are to be seen in every garden. On the 
other hand strange names may often disguise familiar friends or 



Professor or Geology and Paleontology in the University 
or Geneva. 

With a Foreword by 

O. T. Jones, D.Sc., F.R.S. 

Professor or Geology in the University of Manchester. 

Demy 8 vo. With many Illustrations. 16s. net. 

Professor Collet is well known in this country as the contributor 
of several important papers to the Royal Geographical Society 
dealing with problems connected with the Alps. In this book, 
while treating of the Alps as a whole, he has selected aB typical 
examples those regions which British tourists mostly frequent, 
such as Zermatt, Grindolwald, the Bernina Pass, the Maloja Pass 

Edward Arnold <b Co.’s Autumn Announcements. 


and the Aosta Valley. By reading beforehand the section dealing 
with the district he is visiting, a new and fascinating element is 
introduced into the tourist’s expeditions. 

For instance the railway line from Grindelwald to the Kleine 
Scheidegg is mostly cut out of moraines as far as Alpiglen and then 
very nearly follows the contact between the Nummulitio Lime¬ 
stones and the black shales of the Flysch. The Kleine Scheidegg 
itself has been carved out of Aalenian slices, which possibly belong 
to the upper nappes of the High Calcareous Alps. Seen from this 
point of view the stupendous scenery assumes a new meaning for 
the intelligent tourist, which cannot fail to increase the enjoyment 
of his visit. 

The book is illustrated with numerous plates, maps and sections 
which, together with the author’s lucid exposition, will help the 
reader to unravel a fascinating chapter in the history of the forma¬ 
tion of the mountain ranges of the earth we live in. 



Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. 

Author of “ A Passage to India,” etc. 

Crown 8 vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

In the Spring of 1927, Mr. Forster delivered a series of “ Clark 
Lectures ” at Cambridge under the auspices of Trinity College, 
and he has now revised them and brought them together in a 
delightful little volume. The novel is defined for the purpose of 
those lectures as “ any fictitious prose work over 50,000 words in 
length.” Continental authors are considered as well as English ; 
indeed, says Mr. Forster, “ An unpleasant and unpatriotic truth 
has here to be faced : no English novelist is as great as Tolstoy. . . . 
English poetry fears no one—excels in quality as well as quantity. 
But English fiction is less triumphant.” In developing the subject, 
the reader is first invited to consider the Story as an aspect of the 
novel. Two chapters are then devoted to People ; next comes 
the Plot, followed by essays on Fantasy, Prophecy, Pattern and 
.Rhythm and the final summing up. 

Mr. Forster himself possesses such a mastery of style and such 
a high reputation as a novelist, that his treatment of a subject of 
perennial interest forms a landmark in the history of Criticism in 
English Literature. 


Edward Arnold <b Co.'s Autumn Announcements. 



Translated into Rhymed English Verse by 

Reader in Greek in the University or London. 

Author or “Leaves of Hellas,” etc. 

Crown 4 to. 12s. 6d. net. 

Before entering upon his entertaining and scholarly translations 
of the two Plays, the author provides the reader with a vigorous 
Introductory Essay on the form and spirit of Aristophanio Comedy. 
Then follow in order, translations of “ Tho Birds ” and “ The Frogs,” 
which must be read for thoir value to be appreciated. After the 
Plays comes an Appendix on the Interpretation of certain passages, 
the meaning of which has presented difficulty. Mr. MacGregor’s 
previous volume, “ Leaves of Hellas,” won golden opinions and 
one cannot but admire the resourcefulness and humour which are 
so conspicuous in his clever translations of these wonderful Plays. 



Member of the Alpine Ski Club, British and Swiss Universities 
Ski Clubs and the British Ski-Jumping Club. 

With over 100 Illustrations and Diagrams. 

Demy 8ml 12s. 6d, net. 

Mr. d’Egville’s name is so well known to all devotees of the 
grand sport of Ski-ing, that his book needs no introduction. His 
experience has been long and varied. During fourteen winters 
spent on the snow, he has seen an enormous amount of Ski-ing of 
all kinds and has studied many schools, from all angles, first as a 
beginner in the Black Forest and later in tours from the principal 
centres in Switzerland and the Tyrol. He has competed fre¬ 
quently in races, has been a candidate for the British Ski tests, 
has acted as Judge, Course-setter, Referee and Organizer of 
Championships, etc. 

In this volume the technique of good Ski-ing as praotised to-day 

Edward Arnold <k Co.’s Autumn Announcements. 


is described in clear and well-chosen language, and profusely 
illustrated by a large number of photographs and diagrams pre¬ 
pared specially for the book. The author himself arranged the 
pose of each photograph in such a way as to show the exact sequence 
of movements in the different practice exercises and turns, and 
the diagrams—also drawn by the Author—further elucidate the 
text and make it a simple matter to follow the verbal descriptions. 

The first few chapters deal with the preliminary operations 
of Running Position, Traversing and Stemming. These are 
followed by chapters describing in detail the different Ski-ing 
Turns—the Stemming Turns, Christiania Turns, Jump Turns, 
Telemark Turns, etc. Then come the important auxiliary prin¬ 
ciples of Ski-Turning, Weight-Shifting, Leaning, and the work 
of the Knees, Back, Shoulders and Heels. The uses of the Stick 
are expounded at some length, and the concluding chapters are 
devoted to Racing, Course-Setting and Touring. 

The interest, and value of the book are so great that it will form 
an indispensable part of the equipment of every follower of the 
art of Ski-ing, both novice and expert. 



DemySvo. Illustrated. 12s. 6d. net. 

Mrs. Buxton has lived for several years in Kenya, and is 
admirably qualified to satisfy the curiosity of people at home 
about the country itself, its natives and its European population, 
the lives they lead and how they lead them. “It is the value 
of these pages,” says Major Crowdy, a well-known resident in 
Kenya, “ that apart from the colour and movement which pervade 
them, they give a fresh and frank presentation of the things which 
are done daily by different classes of the community.” Mrs. 
Buxton has no political axe to grind, nor is she an advocate of 
any theory for dealing with native races. She simply describes 
things from the standpoint of a young English lady, whose lot 
has been cast in the Colony and who resolves to get the best out 
of life there. She knows how the farmer has to struggle for his 
crops against the vagaries of weather and insect pests; she has 
felt the joy of a “ Safari ” into the blue ; she can smile at the 
curious inconsequence of the native mind ; she can sympathize 
with the work of the Official and appreciate the troubles of the settler. 
Every chapter in the book is vivid with an actuality which only 
experience can impart. 


Edward Arnold & Co.'s Autumn Announcements. 


By Capt. J. B. L. NOEL. 

8 vo. With many Illustrations. 10s. 6d. net. 

As long ago as 1913, Capt. Noel, who had already accomplished 
a good deal of mountain travel on the borders of India and Tibet, 
set before himself the alluring goal of seeking out the passes that 
lead to Everest and if possible coming to close quarters with the 
great mountain. He penetrated far into the mysterious land, but 
was forcibly turned back by the Tibetans after getting within forty 
miles of Everest. The journey, however, enabled him to observe 
many interesting features of Tibetan, especially monastic, life 
and habits. After this came the Great War and it waB not until 
1921 that leave was granted for the first famous expedition to 
Everest, led by Col. Howard-Bury. This expedition was in the 
nature of a reconnaissance, but war had been declared upon the 
mountain, and the assault began in earnest in 1922 under the 
leadership of General Bruce. In the second expedition Capt. Noel 
had the good fortuno to be chosen as the Official Photographer, 
and being a shrewd observer and a vivid writer he throws much 
new light on what happened that year. In particular, the account 
he gives as an eyewitness of the disaster to the porters who were 
overwhelmed by an avalanche is most arresting and terrible. 

Again in the third and latest expedition of 1924, Capt. Noel had 
the privilege of acting as photographic historian, and this time 
he produced his famous film, “ The Epic of Everest,” which has 
been exhibited all the world over. He was also instrumental in 
preparing the unique Everest postage stamp, greatly prized as a 
remarkable souvenir. 

There is much in this volume that has not appeared in any of 
the other books on the Everest Expeditions. Capt. Noel describes 
them from the point of view of an onlooker on the spot and has 
many valuable observations to make. The illustrations from his 
photographs are extraordinarily beautiful. 



8t'o. Illustrated. 10s. 6d. net. 

This is an account of the Author’s wanderings in different parts 
of Europe for the purpose of studying numerous colonies of beautiful 

Edward Arnold & Co.'s Autumn Announcements. 11 

birds in their chosen haunts. It may come as a surprise to the 
reader to learn that in former days most of these birds had breed¬ 
ing grounds in our own island, and there is little doubt that they 
would return if they could find sanctuary and protection in this 
country. Among the species described are the Avocet, the Spoon¬ 
bill, the Godwit, the Stilt, the Buff-backed Heron and others. 
The Author is an enthusiastic photographer and has obtained 
some remarkable pictures, acquired in the face of extraordinary 
difficulties. One has only to read his interesting chapter on The 
Marisma in Spain to appreciate the arduous nature of his quest 
and the rich reward he reaped. The great interest of the book 
is due to its being entirely a record of first-hand observations in 
the field by a naturalist thoroughly well equipped for pursuing a 
hobby of unfailing delight. He possesses also a vivid and attractive 
style and his sympathy with the birds will endear him to all nature- 




Author of “ Young Mrs. Cruse,” etc. 

Crown 8w. 7s. 6d. net. 

This beautifully written novel is an illustration of tho unappre¬ 
ciated fact that truth is much more interesting than fiction. The 
Btory of “ A Girl Adoring ” is merely the story of how a girl, sensitive 
and uncalculating as only youth can be, falls in love ; but because 
Miss Viola Meynell is an artist, her study of Claire is not only tho 
portrait of a very charming personality, but also a subtle and 
individual commentary on life. Tho sketches of Claire’s lover, 
her gentle sister-in-law to whom everything matters because 
nothing does, her brother a well-organized and thorough-going 
egoist, are entertaining and illuminating revelations of human 
nature. They are very ordinary people leading the quiet, not to 
say monotonous life of gentlemen-farmers in Sussex ; so were 
the Miss Dashwoods and Mr. Collins and Fanny and Anne ordinary 


Edward Arnold da Co.’s Autumn Announcements. 

people, yet whose affairs could be more passionately interesting ? 
That genius for observation of the everyday human scene which 
makes Jane Austen’s novels so adorable, is also possessed by Miss 
Meynoll. It is a novelist’s most precious gift, for it creates life 
anew. That gift, together with a power of expressing her thoughts 
and perceptions in precise and lovely language, make this an 
enchanting novel. Mi^s Meynell may share a quality with Jane 
Austen, but she is like no one else but herself. 



Crown 8 vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

A first novel, which gives a remarkably interesting study of an 
English girl who marries a Russian. The period is the present 
day, and the family of Janet, the heroine, are spending the winter 
in Cairo where they meet Alexei and his sister, who appear to be 
Russian grandees, in exile since the revolution. Acquaintance is 
made and love soon follows ; but marriage discovers the weakness 
of two incompatible characters. The author dissects the situation 
with relentless perspicacity; the superficial glamour of Alexei’s 
personal attractions, which were irresistible to Janet in love, 
fades beneath the pressure of financial straits and domestic worries. 
Once more we feel the sad truth embodied in Kipling’s famous 
words—“ East is east and west is west," the truth that the Russian 
psychology differs poles asunder from our own. How it all ends 
the reader learns as the story develops. It is a brilliant and con¬ 
vincing study of character, a drama without a dull scene in it. 





Crown 8 vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

“ Tho common phraBe applied to realistic fiction—‘ a slice of life ’—can 
seldom have been so truly exemplified as it is in this novel. . . . The story 
oohieves all the success that must inevitably accompany a narration so con¬ 
vincingly detailed, and enlivened by so many true and sympathetic glimpses 
into character. Thore is a lovo story—and very moving it is.”— The Times. 

“ A very sound piece of work. . . . Nothing is emphasized for the sake 
of effect, and the result is poignantly impressive.'’— Morning Post. 

“ A story to read and ponder over. Withal, it is a most cheery, whole¬ 
some and exceedingly weli-told tale.” —Western Mail. 


Edward Arnold ds Co.’a Autumn Announcements. 


By Mrs. J. O. ARNOLD. 

Crown 8 vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

“ Something simple and charming and old-fashioned lingera about this 
story of a humble girl’s love-affair in France about twenty years after the 
Revolution.”— The, Bookman. 

“ A very pleasing romance. . . . Mrs. Arnold has chosen her characters 
with great skill and developed them with much litorary adroitness.”— Daily 

“ A good mystery talo, well-written and strong in atmosphere.”—Spec¬ 

“ A true romance, written with careful art. It has the additional merit of 
blending beauty with the thrills.”— The Sketch. 



Crown 8 vo. 7s. 6d. net. 

Author of ‘‘The Down Train,” “Tot Blue Poppt,” eto. 

“ Mr. Bainos is too good a literary craftsman to oontont himself with the 
bare-honos style of most detective stories. H-'h characters are no mere auto¬ 
mata, and furthermore he has some ideas about contemporary life. The 
result is a detective yarn of more than usual interest.”— Daily Telegraph. 

“He mitigates his thrillers with humour and scholarship. ‘The Slip- 
Coach ’ is no exception .”—The Observer. 

“ What distinguishes Mr, Baines from most crime story-tollers is that he 
has brains and ideas .”—Be view of Reviews. 

“ Tho clever ontertaininont is produced with unusual literary skill.”— 
Morning Boat. 

Cheap Editions of Novels by the late Mary J. H. Skrine. 


Thirteenth Impression. 

Popular Edilim. Crown 8 vo. 3s. 6d. net. 


Popular Edition. Crown 8 vo. 3s. 6d. net. 

“ Mrs. Skrine’s admirable novel is one of those unfortunately rare books 
which, without extenuating the hard facta of life, maintain and raise one’s 
belief in human nature. Tho story is simple, but the manner of its telling 
is admirably uncommon. Her portraits are quite extraordinarily vivid, ”■— 


Edward Arnold <Sa Co.'s Autumn Announcements. 




With Illustrations and Map. Demy 8 vo. 21s. net. 

“ Mr, Harris has written about as good a book as could have beon written 
on tho troubles in Morocco during recent years. He wriloB out of a vast 
knowledge of Morocco, and with a vivid narrativo gift.”— Daily News. 

“ A most able and interesting account, written by one inti mately acquainted 
with his subject.”— The Times. 

“None can write with greater authority, and Mr. Harris has literary giftB 
which only too many ‘ authorities ’ are denied. This is an admirably vivid 
narrative.”— The Observer. 


1914 - 1925 . 

By R. B. MOWAT, M.A. 

Fellow of Corpus Christi" College, Oxford. Author of “ A History 
of Europeak Diplomacy, 1814-1914,” eto. 

Demy 8 vo. 16s. net. 

“ Mr. Mowat is already well known as an historian of modem diplomacy, 
and the book before us must further enhance his reputation. It is a very 
clear and reliable account of the diplomacy of the war and the ponce, with 
which we are still, every one of us, so vitally concerned.”— Liverpool Post. 

“ Will meet the noods of the average reader who desires a general account 
of tho eventful years since July, 1914.”— Manchester Guardian. 

“We cannot mistake the moderation and good sense that pervado this 
book. Both as a compendium of diplomacy and a collection of narratives it 
deserves all praiso.”— Cambridge Review. 





Professor in the University of Leiden. 

Demy 8 vo. With Illustrations. 16s. net. 

“ Professor Huizinga’s methods of approach are original, and even when 
one is not inclined to agree with some of his generalizations, his argument is 
so well illustrated from contemporary records that refusal is not enough.”— 
Daily News. 

“ With what eyeB, Professor Huizinga asks, did men look at life and God 
and the world in thoBe conturies, when tho splendid sunset of roodisevalism, 
mingled with the pale dawn of the Renaissance ? To answer his question 
ho draws with equal felicity upon poets, painters, moralists and historians. 
The result is a remarkably vivid picture of an age, the very complication of 
which givos it much of its attraction.”— The Ration. 

“ The author guides and instructs us witli a practised pen. His thoughtful 
and well-ordered book desorves careful study. The illustrations are delightful, 
and havo evidently been selected with great oare and judgement.”— The 
Times Literary Supplement. 

Edward Arnold da Co.'s Autumn Announcements. 



By Dr. J. L. MYRES, F.S.A. 

Wykeham Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford. 

Demy 8 vo. 14s. net. 

“ Professor Myres’ new book may be warmly commended. It will show 
how oar comprehension of the Greek attitude has been widened and deepened 
by modern historical and anthropological research. The special value of the 
book lies in the constant reference to parallel ideas and usages in non-Hellenic 
communities, whether ancient or modern, primitive or advanced.”— Daily 

“ Professor Myres writes with vivacity and with a sense of life that enableB 
him to bring home the social existence of the ancient Greeks to our imagina¬ 
tion.”— Daily News. 


By H. J. L. BEADNELL, M.Inst.M.M., F.R.G.S., F.G.S. 

Survey or Egypt. 

Author of “An Egyptian Oasis,” “The Fa yum Province of Egypt,” 


With a Foreword by 


President of the Royal Geographical Society. 

Demy 8 vo. With Illustrations and Maps. 10s. 6d. net. 

“Seldom is the desert traveller so well equipped both for ‘describing the 
waste and telling how it was made.’ ”— Scotsman. 

“ Mr. Beadnell is a good guide to the geology and sport of tho Sinaitio 
Peninsula for those who care to take a short holiday with a spice of discom¬ 
fort, or even of danger.”— The Times. 

“ A pleasant mixture of geological science and travel pictures in a land of 
august and ancient memory. A word of praise must be given for the beautiful 
illustrations.”— Manchester Guardian. 



First Chairman of the Mount Everest Committee. 

Fourth Impression, Svo. Illustrated. 7s. 6d. net. 

“ The Mount Everest Committee are to be congratulated on having found 
at hand in their first Chairman, Sir Francis Younghusband, a bard excep¬ 
tionally qualified both by his knowledge of the Himalaya and his enthusiasm 
for mountain exploration to do full justice not only to the dramatic incidents 
of the Great Adventure, but also to the spirit that prevailed among those 
who took part in it. In a comparatively small volume Sir Francis Young- 
mis band has been successful in weaving the events of the three campaigns 
against Mount Everest into a consecutive and engrossing narrative.”— The 
Geographical Journal, 


Edward Arnold <& Co.’s Autumn Announcements. 



Demy 8vo. With 16 pages of illustrations. 16s. net. 

“ One of the beet-written and most delightful garden books we have read 
for a long time. It is full of good things. ... A really charming volume, 
which we recommend to all garden-lovers .”—The Field. 

“ This is a ploasant example of the books about gardening which mingle 
lively conversational description with sound practical advice .”—The Timex, 

“ A book which is both pleasant and exceedingly useful. Although situated 
in North Wales, the garden is like many another, and the reader will find 
that much o, the information will apply equally well in his own case.”— 
Country Life. 


Fourth Impression. Demy 8 vo. With Portrait. 21s. net. 

“ A veritablo treasure-house of entortainiug anecdotes.”— Morning Post. 

“The ‘man in the street’ should beg, borrow or steal Viscount Knutsford’s 
book. Every page has a laugh in it, yet all the time the reador is having 
revealed to him the charming personality and actions of one of our greatest 
doers of good.”— Daily News. 

“ Among the notable books of rominisconces of the year, that of Lord 
Knutsford, by reason of its humour, its wisdom, and its loving-kindliness, 
is the one that will remain longest in the memory and lio closest to the heart 
of the reader."— Queen. 


By the late Sir WALTER RALEIGH. 

Author of “ Style,” “ Milton,” “ Wordsworth,” etc. 

Second Impression. Crown 8 vo. 6s. net. 

“ Professor Gordon’s admirablo editing has produced a volume not only 
well worth reading, but which finally may prove to bo among tho most endur¬ 
ing of tho books of tho late Sir Walter Raleigh,”— Saturday Review. 

“ A book which recalls with vivid emphasis the charm and human quality 
of Raleigh’s scholastic oratory.”— The. Times. 

“ This is a sparkling and stimulating book by a brilliant and wilful writer.” 
— Daily News. 

“ Opinions, observations and reflections on books and on writers, all of 
them containing the marks of tho rich mint in which they were struck.”— r 

London: Edward Arnold * Go., 41 & 43 Maddox Street, W.l.